Courtesy of Pennsylvania State University

Courtesy of Pennsylvania State University

Riverside tried to start a trend about a year ago of swapping junk food and sodas in vending machines, to healthier snacks such as nuts, trail mix and low fat baked chips. So far, the Loma Linda University Health campus has done the switch, along with the Cesar Chavez and Stratton community. Riverside has planned to restock the rest of the city’s public 34 vending machines with snacks that have fewer than 200 calories. The purpose of this action was to set an example for the rest of the cities as a start to combat obesity.

However, the change of snacks in vending machine is only a minimal change to actually combat obesity.

It has been proven that it requires a lot more than just healthy snacks in vending machines to end obesity. An inactive lifestyle, the environment people are in, genes and family history, health conditions, emotional factors and lack of sleep, are all reasons why people become obese.

So, obesity can for the most part be considered something personal that people struggle with differently. Not all people are overweight and obese because of the food they are eating.

To eat healthy requires a lot of money, willpower and dedication. Organic markets tend to be a lot more expensive than regular grocery stores, thus, discouraging people that try to change their eating habits. People try going on diets and give up once realizing how difficult it can be to make that change. Not only are the food and products more expensive, but the actual cooking and meal amounts change drastically from what we are all used to. Only committed people stick to their plans and usually surpass obesity.

Another factor that makes it difficult to eat healthy are all the fast food restaurants. There are close to 50,000 fast food chains in the United States and in the world there are more than 500,000 fast food restaurants. In total, there are approximately 13,000 certified organic producers in the U.S. Fast food restaurants have become so abundant in the past years that simply driving around can lead you to many different fast food places. In comparison to organic markets, fast food places will always be faster, cheaper and easier to get to.

Vending machines definitely aren’t as abundant as fast food restaurants. That’s why replacing unhealthy snacks for healthier choices will only be a small step in changing people’s mindsets on the way they eat.

The real way to combat obesity is to face the fast food industries and encourage them to change the ingredients used to make their foods. An organic menu can be highly encouraged and will definitely keep people going with healthy diets. Last month the first organic restaurant with USDA approval was opened up in San Francisco. The Chicken Coup uses everything organic from their chicken to their sodas. It is expected to open up 25 more restaurants throughout next year. In the end, having organic restaurants or simply an organic plate at a fast food restaurant can draw more attention than a healthy snack in a vending machine. This makes a bigger impact to people because they’re actual meals available on the go, which avoids the trouble of cooking or the expense of each individual organic item to create a meal. For busy people that want to be healthy but have no time for it, an organic menu becomes extremely convenient.

Another important factor is exercise. A healthy diet is required but exercise is what will really seal the deal. It’s important to do at-home workouts or go to the gym to keep yourself in shape. Exercise promotes weight loss and good health which easily overpowers the minimal change healthy snacks in vending machines will bring. Of course snacks like nuts and granola bars are healthy but their only purpose is to keep you full enough before you can get to an actual meal. These snacks won’t help people lose weight and won’t change their health drastically. With a weekly exercise plan, not only will you feel better but you’ll look better also!

Combating obesity is a struggle faced by many. The change done with the vending machines in Riverside can set a good example, but in the end won’t be able to completely combat obesity. It simply isn’t making a huge impact on everyone. Bigger steps need to be taken in order to fully get rid of the high rates of obesity.