Title: College students, vending machines, and improving nutritional choices: the effects of adding healthier foods on perceptions of vending machines

Authors: Julia L. Lapp; William Harris Ressler; Amy L. Frith

Addresses: Ithaca College, 953 Danby Road, Ithaca, NY 14850, USA ' Ithaca College, 953 Danby Road, Ithaca, NY 14850, USA ' Ithaca College, 953 Danby Road, Ithaca, NY 14850, USA

Abstract: How do college students perceive foods in vending machines, and how can understanding those perceptions inform public health efforts to create healthier food environments? Approximately 200 students were surveyed about their perceptions and uses of campus vending machines, before and after selected conventional foods in two machines were replaced with healthier options. No promotions were used, nor were incentives given. Perceiving the food as healthier did not compromise the perceived tastiness or convenience of the food. In particular, students who reported being the most physically active were most likely to perceive food in these locations to be healthier at post-test. Applying Fazio's MODE theory as an explanatory model, these students' uses of the foods appeared to become more planned and less impulsive. Overall, self-reported purchasing from the two machines remained steady despite declines in sales from vending machines campus-wide. Results offer insights for promoting healthier choices and suggest that improving the healthiness of vending machine selections can serve all stakeholders: consumers, companies, and institutions.

Keywords: vending machines; food perceptions; college students; student perceptions; food environments; public health nutrition; health promotion; healthier foods; consumer behaviour; MODE theory; nutritional choices.

DOI: 10.1504/IJFSNPH.2014.063502

International Journal of Food Safety, Nutrition and Public Health, 2014 Vol.5 No.1, pp.16 - 33

Accepted: 11 Jun 2012
Published online: 30 Jul 2014 *

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