Between NYC Mayor Bloomberg's ban on large cups of soda to the city's calorie counts hanging out next to each menu item at restaurants, it was only a matter of time until the two ideas came together and we got calorie counts on soda in vending machines! Yup, come 2013, Coke, Pepsi, and Dr. Pepper will roll out new vending machines that post the calorie counts for their products on the buttons you use to select your preferred choice of beverage.
Well, thank goooodness! Because there's absolutely no other way for consumers to figure out that soda is pretty much the emptiest source of calories ever, right?
Hey, while they're at it, why don't we have waiters at restaurants read off the specials of the day along with their calorie, fat, fiber, sodium, and protein counts? Maybe we could slap warnings across regular ketchup that read, "This DOES contain high fructose corn syrup!" Bakeries could take a blood sugar reading before selling us that red velvet cupcake! And at movie theater snack counters, they could weigh us in before allowing us to order that XXL tub of popcorn?
Obviously, I kid. In all seriousness, I appreciate that the soda companies want to take an aggressive approach and attempt to be ahead of the curve of regulations that could require that they provide calorie info up-front to consumers. But it's just not enough. And drilling health info about their products into our thick skulls should not be the soda companies' responsibility alone.
It's a good -- albeit small -- step to a healthier America. Ultimately, there has to be a collective effort made by all of us to make foods and drinks healthier overall (how about some natural sodas made with real sugar or stevia in those vending machine, guys?) and to make consumers even smarter about their options. Because calorie counts are just the tip of the iceberg. We need real info about HFCS, aspartame, the obscene amounts of sugar in one regular can of soda. It wouldn't be so crazy for soda companies to try to make water -- I mean REGULAR water, not sugar and food coloring-packed water substitute -- as cool and popular among young people. That kinda thing.
But in the meantime, if calorie counts on soda machines will get the ball rollin', cool. When it comes to our health, I have no doubts that the more info we have "at our fingertips," the better.
How do you feel about these new vending machines?
Image via dcJohn/Flickr