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Obamacare Requires Nutritional Information on Vending Machines

Image: Obamacare Requires Nutritional Information on Vending Machines

By Clyde Hughes   |  

Obamacare is mandating by law that vending machines display calorie information for items inside early next year.

The new Affordable Care Act rules will apply to about 10,800 companies that operate 20 or more vending machines, according to The Washington Post. The information is aimed to help consumers make healthier choices.

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It could cost vending machine companies $25.8 million initially and $24 million per year if 0.92 percent of obese adults ate 100 fewer calories per week, but the savings to the health care system could be that size as well.

The vending machine industry has complained about the new requirements.

"The money that would be spent to comply with this — there's no return on the investment," Eric Dell, the National Automatic Merchandising Association's vice president for government affairs, told The Associated Press.

Carol Brennan, who owns Brennan Food Vending Services in Londonderry, N.H., said she has five employees servicing hundreds of machines and that she'll be forced to limit her vending machine offerings so employees have time to update the calorie counts.

"It is outrageous for us to have to do this on all our equipment," Brennan said. "How many people have not read a label on a candy bar? If you're concerned about it, you've already read it for years."

The FDA is ironing out the final rules for restaurant chains with more than 20 locations to post calorie counts. Some cities already have such a requirement, according to the AP.

A 2011 New York study found that only one in six customers looked at nutritional information, but those who did generally consumed 100 fewer calories. A Philadelphia study found no difference in calories consumed purchased after the city's labeling law took effect.

"There is probably a subset of people for whom this information works, who report using it to purchase fewer calories, but what we're not seeing though is a change at an overall population level in the number of calories consumed," said Brian Ebel, the study's author and an assistant professor at New York University's department of population health and medicine.

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