City of Campbell River program coordinator Linda Nagle offers up some of the new snack options that will soon fill vending machines on city owned or operated facilities to a family arriving at the Family Day extravaganza at the Sportsplex Monday. Photo by Mike Davies/Campbell River Mirror

Nutrition and the Vancouver Island vending machine

Campbell River City replacing high-sugar and high-fat snacks and beverages

It wasn’t just exercise being pitched during Family Day activities in Campbell River last weekend.

Representatives from the City of Campbell River’s Recreation and Culture Department were also giving out samples of the new offerings soon to be taking over the vending machines at all city-owned and operated facilities.

City of Campbell River program coordinator Linda Nagle says the province came out with new guidelines for what should and should not be in vending machines a few years ago and the city has decided that it should also try to incorporate these healthier alternatives at its facilities.

She was delighted to be on hand Monday catching families on their way into the Sportsplex to offer them the chance to try the new snacks.

“Now that we’ve been given the chance to move this way, Ryan Vending has been really supportive and has given us a lot of samples of lower fat and lower sugar options and we’re giving people the chance to try some of them,” she says, passing another paper cup to another family interested in trying out the new offerings, adding that the goal is to have as many of the healthier options filling the machines as soon as possible.

“We started with a mere, I think, six per cent of the offerings in the provincial guidelines, but we’re now up to about 14 to 20 per cent of the options that are healthier now,” she says. “We’re aiming to try and complete this within a year.”

And it’s not just the traditional chips and chocolate bars that are being phased out, Nagle says. The drink options will be shifting in a healthier direction, as well.

“The aim will be to do both the beverages and the snacks,” she says, but adds is actually quite difficult to find drinks that conform to the health standards.

“A regular can of Coke, that’s how much sugar in it,” she says, picking up a glass jar about the size of a person’s closed fist that is two-thirds full of processed white sugar. “A regular 20-ounce bottle of Gatorade has this much,” she says, holding up the same size jar containing even more.

But while it may be difficult to get beverages that meet the guidelines, they can still shift towards healthier, lower-sugar options, like Gatorade’s G2 line of sports drinks.

“Even though it’s a bit too high for the provincial guidelines, it’s half the sugar of a regular Gatorade,” Nagle says. “So if your kids are really screaming for a Gatorade, this is the better one to give them.”

And it’s not always about the contents of the beverage itself, but how much of it is being consumed, Nagle says, using beverages like chocolate milk and natural fruit juices as examples.

“Chocolate milk is really good is great for building bones and replacing what you’ve used after a really hard workout, but even then, you should only be drinking a small amount. Size really does matter,” she says. “For example, a 200 ml tetra pack of juice is recommended as a drink, but a 500 ml container is not, because it’s just too much sugar.”

But the SCOPE BC Live 5-2-1-0 campaign, also being supported by Nagle and her team on Monday, isn’t just about healthy snacks and beverages.

While the five does stand for the goal of kids getting at least five servings of fruits and vegetables per day, the campaign also encourages families to limit non-educational screen time to less than two hours, get kids in at least an hour of physical activity and trying to cut out sugar-sweetened drinks like pop and high-calorie punch altogether.

For more on the SCOPE BC campaign, visit scopebc.ca

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