Pressure has been heaped onto the NHS over the last few years to provide their staff, patients and visitors with access to healthier food, and more recently healthier vending in hospitals. Now, a study has demonstrated that healthier vending does have an impact on people’s buying habits.
Results from the trial undertaken at one of the biggest NHS Trusts in England led to 632 vending machines at 105 other hospitals being overhauled to provide healthier products (Source: Guardian, 2018). The trial showed that hospital vending machines offering healthier snacks lead to NHS staff and patients consuming more water and dried fruit and fewer crisps and sugary drinks.
The Department of Health and Social Care ran the trial at Leeds Teaching Hospital NHS Trust. They removed unhealthy products from 11 of their cold drinks machines and 6 machines selling mixed snacks. The healthier products were positioned so that they were easily visible.
Public Health England (PHE) evaluated the results of the trial, they believe that simply changing the nutritional profile to healthier products in hospital vending machines could help tackle obesity among NHS staff, visitors and patients.
Dr. Tim Chadborn, PHE’s Head of Behavioral Insights, said that,
“This study shows that healthier choices can be good for profits and our waist lines. With the obesity crisis costing the NHS billions every year we would like to see more trusts leading by example and promoting healthy options.”
At Doozy, we recognised over 10 years ago that it was difficult for people to get access to healthier products. This was even the case for places which served as healthcare providers. Insanely, at one point over 100 hospitals had fast food restaurants within them (Source: Guardian, 2018), let alone decent snacks from vending machines. Doozy offered a solution for the latter. We installed healthy vending at Salisbury District Hospital in 2015, and despite concerns that profits would dip without favourites such as Mars Bars or Coke, the sales rose by more than 90% in the first three months.
It’s crazy that across the UK the average cold drinks vending machine contains only 39% low sugar, diet or water drinks. Even more alarming is that just 14% of the average UK snack machine is labelled as healthier (Source: Public Health England). However, consumers are increasingly requesting healthier food and drink. Our Doozy machines contain 80% healthier products for both our snacks and cold drinks. You can have a look at our product guide here. The findings of this trial show that simple changes can support a positive shift in purchasing behaviour, and encourage healthier choices. Importantly, it also suggests, contrary to popular belief, that swapping out big brands for healthier products is still commercially viable for the site.
Healthier vending in hospitals quite clearly has a part to play in the fight against obesity and in making our nation healthier. This trial shows that healthier vending for hospitals will have positive results. Charlotte Orton, from Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, had this to say,
“We hope the outcomes of this pilot will give other vending machine suppliers food for thought and encourage them to consider offering healthier alternative as standard.”