By Meghan McCloskey, Staff Writer
Recently, the Obama administration created a bill that would ban junk food from high schools across the country, specifically in vending machines. This will not affect the University, but it brings up the issue of vending machines on campus and the amount of junk food they provide to students. If the legislation included college campuses, how would it affect the lives of students?
Think about the snacks you see walking by a vending machine on campus. They all have essentially the same food to offer. There is the typical junk food like Doritos, M&M's, Skittles, cookies and pop tarts. However, there are also some healthier options like baked chips, rice snacks and trail mix.
Pop a dollar into a vending machine for a bag of Doritos and you eat 177 calories, 85 of which are calories from fat. There is almost no nutritional value in the chips and no fiber to keep you satisfied after eating all of the fat.
The rice snacks or baked chips are better, but still not ideal. Baked Lays are only around 130 calories with 14 calories from fat, but like the Doritos, they have no nutritional value and you will be hungry again in less than a half hour. The rice snacks are even worse since the nutritional value is almost equal to air.
The healthiest choice would be the trail mix. As long as there are no chocolate chunks or M&M's hidden in the bag, trail mix is healthy. Even though a bag of it from the vending machine is 280 calories and what seems like a lot of fat, it is all monounsaturated fat, which is actually good for you and keeps you feeling full for a long time.
There are a couple healthier choices in the vending machines at the University, but are the bags of trail mix and granola bars collecting dust while students choose the greasy chips and chocolate bars?
"I usually buy the Baked Lays or a granola bar if they are in there," says Katie Wiking, a sophomore athletic training major.
However, Wiking is more aware of the health benefits of forgoing that bag of chips or candy since she is studying a health major. Other students might not be as inclined to choose healthy items.
For sophomore engineering major Fred Shattell, taking away junk food would have an impact on his choices.
"If the vending machines at school have pop tarts or skittles, that's what I would get," he says.
The statistics for Nassau County from the New York State Department of Health reveals that most people, including students at the University, are not choosing enough healthy food. According to the most recent study in 2003, 52.1 per cent of adults are obese in Nassau County. Over half of the population is over-weight and reducing the intake of junk food will obviously decrease this high percentage.
Since most treats in the vending machines on campus have the typical junk food fare and little nutritious items, banning junk food in them would force the University to completely re-stock the machines. This is an indicator that this type of change could be a good thing for students' health at the University.