Nutrition Environment Measures Survey (NEMS) Results from Chester

The American Heart Association is striving to promote workplace wellness within the city of Chester by improving access to healthy foods and beverages in the work environment. An important part of that mission is improving the contents of the vending machines in Chester community buildings. While vending machines offer quick and easy options for snacks, the items contained in vending machines are often very unhealthy. The Nutrition Environment Measures Survey (NEMS), created by the University of Pennsylvania, is a tool used to evaluate the contents of vending machines, stores, and cafeterias based on specific nutrition guidelines. Foods and beverages are categorized into one of three color groups (red, yellow, and green) based on their nutrition content. The red category food and beverages are not considered healthy and fall outside recommended dietary guidelines. The yellow category contains foods and drinks that meet basic dietary guidelines, but should be eaten in moderation. Finally, the green category represents the healthiest options, with foods and beverages meeting dietary guidelines and providing a serving of fruit, dairy, vegetables, or whole grains. The NEMS criteria used to classify vending machines come from the Health and Sustainability Guidelines for Federal Concessions and Vending Operation.[i]

The NEMS tool was used to assess the vending machines at several buildings within the Chester community, including hospitals and government buildings. The NEMS was conducted in June 2016 at the vending machines within Chester Community Hospital, Chester Crozer Medical Center, and the Chester City Hall building. Some key takeaways from the results of the survey are as follows.

Chester Community Hospital (3 vending machines):

  • Food machines had an average of 36 items; drink machines had an average of 9 items
  • The items in the food machine were classified as: 83% Red, 8.5% Yellow, 8.5% Green
  • The items in the beverage machine were classified as 67% Red, 22% Yellow, 11% Green

Chester Crozer Medical Center (6 vending machines):

  • Food machines had an average of 36 items; drink machines had an average of 9 items
  • The items in the food machine were classified as: 77% Red, 22% Yellow, 1% Green
  • The items in the beverage machine were classified as: 72% Red, 16% Yellow, 12% Green

Chester City Hall (2 vending machines):

  • Food vending machine had 35 items; drink machine had 9 items
  • The items in the food machine were classified as: 91% Red, 3% Yellow, 6% Green
  • The items in the beverage machine were classified as: 78% Red, 11% Yellow, 11% Green

 

[i] Health and Sustainability Guidelines for Federal Concessions and Vending Operation

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