Abu Dhabi: Vending machines across Abu Dhabi’s health-care facilities will now stock only nutritious food and snack options, with less healthier items placed on the lower shelves, the Abu Dhabi Public Health Centre (ADPHC) has announced.
This is part of the Healthy Vending Machine Guidelines, which were first introduced in 2021 and have now been rolled out across all facilities, the public health watchdog said. The healthy vending machines are part of ADPHC’s efforts to provide easily accessible and nutritious food options and combat chronic diseases related to unhealthy diets.
Encouraging healthy choices
In a statement, ADPHC said all items sold at health-care facilities in Abu Dhabi are now approved by a specialised team of ADPHC experts. These include low-fat dairy drinks, unsweetened beverages, baked chips, unsalted nuts and dark chocolate.
To encourage users to choose healthier options, the display of the food items in vending machines has been adjusted to show the healthier options in a prominent manner with the less healthy options placed on lower shelves. In addition, health-care facilities across Abu Dhabi are providing patients, visitors and employees with informative leaflets to help increase awareness and create a shift in consumption habits.
Combatting lifestyle diseases
“Adopting a healthy lifestyle and consuming healthy food options is an integral part of maintaining the health and safety of community members and combatting chronic diseases. We are committed to supporting the food industry by working hand-in-glove to implement latest technologies and innovation and confirm adherence to evidence-based research and guidelines, in efforts to ensure that all vending machines across health-care facilities provide healthy options — for patients, visitors and employees,” said Dr Omniyat Al Hajri, ADPHC’s executive director for health community.
Training for vendors
As part of its initiative, the ADPHC is currently providing technical support and expert consultation to food establishments and suppliers, in addition to training sessions and material for employees in the food industry.
“Healthy vending machines include low-calorie drinks such as low-fat and unflavoured dairy drinks, natural water, juices made from natural fruit, unsweetened tea or coffee and snacks such as natural, unflavoured popcorn, baked potato chips, unsalted nuts and seeds, fruit and vegetables without additives and dark chocolate. Soft drinks that contain high sugar, energy drinks, nuts that contain added oils and are high in salt, fried potato chips, chocolate, candy and other sweets such as toffee and lollipops are now prohibited from being made available in vending machines,” said Maryam Al-Mansoori, the head of ADPHC’s nutrition department.