Student Health Vs. Vending Machines on Campus

Terry Scott Niebeling, Minnesota Daily reader

Around campus I see a daily conflict of interest. There’s a conflict between wanting physical health for students and selling pop in vending machines on campus. It puzzles me to see that at the University of Minnesota — a logical and research-minded school — we still allow soft drink vendors and products high in sugar to be sold ubiquitously throughout campus. Have we not seen the research evidence of the risk of consuming products with high levels of sugar?
 
As I have noticed recently, after seeing “Fed Up” — a revealing documentary about the high levels of sugar in American food and beverage products and the consumer risk involved — there is in most buildings on campus a vending machine for soda or candy. It seems illogical that we, those at the University, pay homage and money to an industry that potentially markets products that attribute to deteriorating the health of American citizens. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in America. 
 
Though it might seem harsh to criticize vendors who sponsor the school (I don’t know how —they don’t pay my tuition), in reality it is our health that is priceless. It’s ironic that the University champions the sale of such products and at the same time offers student health insurance (for a fee of course). To me, it is a vicious cycle that needs to be stopped. When will the interest of the students be put on the same level or above that of the sponsorships and corporate donors?
 
See, the University wants to have a healthy student body (no pun intended). They offer programs and counseling for mental health, sexual health and safety, though they do not outlaw or prohibit the sales of a product that could cause major health issues. If I was a prospective student and saw these sugar utopias around campus, I would wonder why the University would allow a product so detrimental to society to be present. If the University wants to promote better student lifestyles, it should promote better lifestyle options.