It used to be that the worst thing that could happen to you at a vending machine was your bag of Fritos got stuck on one of those metal coils. Well, for schoolchildren in Utah, vending machines just got a whole lot less satisfying. As part of a public service initiative called LiVe, sponsored by Salt Lake City-based Intermountain Healthcare, fake vending machines have been planted in schools and other public places.
Outliers: Great, now the vending machines are taunting us
They don't accept money and they don't dispense any snacks. Instead, the bogus vending machines contain imitations of the usual fare. When someone pushes one of the machine's buttons, he or she is treated not to a nougat-filled candy bar or a bag of salty, crispy chips, but instead, the machine delivers a borderline-snarky bit of advice meant to steer the snack-seeker toward a more healthful alternative.
Examples include: “How about you run to the grocery store and pick up some fresh fruit or somethin'? You could use a healthy snack, and the run wouldn't hurt you either.” or “Potatoes come from Idaho; potato chips come from the deep fat fryer.”
“Our goal with the LiVe campaign is to approach this important issue from a child's point of view and offer positive, helpful solutions for families,” says Dr. Tamara Sheffield, Intermountain's medical director of community health and prevention.
One in four Utah children is overweight or obese, she added. “LiVe can help children be more physically active and make more healthy food choices. By coordinating with children, parents, schools and the medical community, we can reverse the direction this crisis is heading.”
A website supporting the LiVe effort, intermountainlive.org, also features a mobile app, games, posters, suggestions for healthier living and an online version of the deceptive vending machine along with a video.
Outliers agrees wholeheartedly with the cause of childhood nutrition, but we worry that these fake machines may soon be the target of kicks from frustrated kids.
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