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Pricing and Availability Intervention in Vending Machines at Four Bus Garages

French, Simone A. PhD; Hannan, Peter J. M Stat; Harnack, Lisa J. PhD; Mitchell, Nathan R. MPH; Toomey, Traci L. PhD; Gerlach, Anne RD, MPH

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: January 2010 - Volume 52 - Issue 1S - p S29-S33
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0b013e3181c5c476
Original Articles

Objective: To evaluate the effects of lowering prices and increasing availability on sales of healthy foods and beverages from 33 vending machines in 4 bus garages as part of a multicomponent worksite obesity prevention intervention.

Methods: Availability of healthy items was increased to 50% and prices were lowered at least 10% in the vending machines in two metropolitan bus garages for an 18-month period. Two control garages offered vending choices at usual availability and prices. Sales data were collected monthly from each of the vending machines at the four garages.

Results: Increases in availability to 50% and price reductions of an average of 31% resulted in 10% to 42% higher sales of the healthy items. Employees were mostly price responsive for snack purchases.

Conclusions: Greater availability and lower prices on targeted food and beverage items from vending machines was associated with greater purchases of these items over an 18-month period. Efforts to promote healthful food purchases in worksite settings should incorporate these two strategies.

From the Division of Epidemiology and Community Health, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minn.

Address correspondence to: Division of Epidemiology and Community Health, University of Minnesota, 1300 South 2nd Street, #300, Minneapolis, MN 55454; E-mail:

©2010The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine