Calorie Counts on Soda Machines


The rise of obesity in America has caused a rise in legislation that aims to help combat consumers’ bad habits. Already, New York City has a new law banning sodas larger than 16 ounces in most NY establishment (effective March, 2013). Other municipalities might soon follow New York’s lead. And soon, calorie counting will be practiced not just by individuals – our vending machines will also be counting (or at least easily showing) the number of calories it dispenses.

The American Beverage Association (ABA), representing the giant soda companies, is getting ready to launch a “Calorie Count” vending machine program. The program will assist consumers in easily identifying the soda calories they consume by placing the calorie counts directly on the buttons of the vending machines. According to the ABA, “the calories count vending program will offer consumers clear calorie information, encourage lower-calorie beverage choices and remind them that calories count in all the choices they make.”

The front of the vending machines will have signs that include “Check Then Choose” or “Try a Low-Calorie Beverage” and the selection buttons will include the calorie count for the beverage container. The new machines will be placed in municipal buildings in Chicago and San Antonio beginning in 2013, with a nation-wide launch following.

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. First, list students’ favorite sodas and beverages on the board. Have the students then guess how many calories are in each serving – and even how many servings are in each container.
  2. Next, have the students look up the correct calorie counts for the beverages.
  3. Alternative: Have students bring up the following Web site and take the quiz on soda sizes and calories –
  4. Discussion groups: What are the responsibilities of beverage companies to consumers?
  5. What about other foods dispensed in vending machines?
  6. Should the same procedure be used on other vending machines?
  7. What are the marketing implications of the new laws and programs for food and beverage companies?

Source:  New York Times,, other news sources, 10/9/12

1 Comment

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One response to “Calorie Counts on Soda Machines

  1. Didn’t know this. Thanks for keeping me informed.

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