SUNDAY, Nov. 28, 2010 (HealthDay News) -- The contents of school vending machines contribute to bad eating habits and poor nutrition, a new study shows.
U.S. researchers examined the impact that vending machine foods had on the food choices of 5,930 students at 152 schools. The vending machines in 83 percent of the schools sold foods with minimal nutritional value, including chips, sodas and sweets.
In elementary schools that sold fruits and vegetables in vending machines, students ate more produce overall than students in schools that didn't offer such healthy choices. By the same token, students ate more sweets overall if they went to schools with vending machines that sold sweets.
The findings were published online in the Journal of Adolescent Health.
"Schools provide not only an environment for learning but an environment that affects healthful eating and physical activity. School policies should require the establishment of an optimum environment for child health," study co-author Ronald Iannotti, of the U.S. National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, said in a Center for Advancing Health news release.
"We are supposed to be teaching proper nutrition in the schools, and having a vending machine inside of the school doesn't make sense. Schools are introducing foods that every nutritional scientist in the world knows are dangerous," Dr. Joel Fuhrman, nutritional researcher who specializes in preventing and reversing disease, said in the news release.
The Nemours Foundation has more about healthy eating for children.