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Vending Machines in Schools Could Be Without Trans Fats in Colorado

A new Colorado state bill could cause the elimination of trans fats in public schools, including vending machines in schools. Although Colorado is the skinniest state in the United States, lawmakers are concerned it may not stay that way. Colorado’s children and youth are not in shape–some statistics say that about 25% of them are overweight. Trans fats are a proven cause of coronary heart disease.

The bill barely passed in the Colorado Senate. Much to the dismay of vending machine companies, it only passed by 18-17 vote. Bill SB 12-068 says that public schools and charter schools cannot make foods available during or after school for students that contain any amount of trans fat. It applies to all foods and beverages on school grounds including ones made available at a “school cafeteria, school store, vending machine, or other food service entity existing upon school grounds or through any fundraising effort conducted by one or more students, teachers, or parents.” The bill does not apply to bake sales.

There was no debate on the subject in the senate. All of the Republican senators voted against it, plus two democrats: Schwartz and Jahn. Lobbyists, critics and generally, Republicans, are hoping it doesn’t pass in the house of representatives. However, the bill isn’t all bi-partisan. Representative Tom Massey is the Republican co-sponsor of the bill and Senator Lucia Guzman is the Democrat co-sponsor.

Opponents of the bill think that it might be a financial setback for Colorado’s school districts. If it is a financial setback that causes the schools to cut sports, gym and the arts–isn’t that defeating the point? In addition, it might be redundant: the US Dept. of Agriculture is calling for a reduction of trans fats in school meals. Those vending machine companies that have contracts to supply vending machines in schools are also unhappy.

This scenario is similar to eliminating sugar in the school’s pop machine. Once they got rid of the sugar, the students drank more diet sodas–which contain chemicals that could be worse than sugar itself. Food and vending machine companies ultimately will find a way to supply popular products for vending machines in schools just as they did with that pop machine–even if they don’t contain trans fats, they still could be unhealthy.

According to a 2011 CDC report, in Colorado, 24.6% of high school students drank one or more soda(s) a day. 25.1% of high school students watched 3+ hours of TV a day. 36.6% of children between ages 6-17 have a TV in their bedroom. 23.9% of that same age group are not eating family meals most days of the week.

What do you think about vending machines in schools?