Background:The study goal was to evaluate the nutritional impact of a healthy snack intervention on a southern university campus. Methods: This quasi-experimental study was conducted during the fall 2017 semester weekly for 14 weeks in a large southern U.S. university. For the intervention, half of vending snacks in four campus residential halls (housing from 216 to 361 students) were substituted with snacks complying with federal Smart Snacks in School nutrition standards for K-12 schools. For analysis, data from the Nutrition Facts labels of 14 vending machines or from manufacturer's websites was collected by trained graduate and undergraduate researchers. Results: On average, for each Smart Snack sold, there was a statistically significant reduction of 99.38 calories (CI=42.32, 156.43), 4 g saturated fat (CI = 2.23, 5.75), and 10.06 g of sugar (CI=2.92, 17.20). An average reduction of 41.88 mg in sodium and an increase of 0.81g in fiber was also found, but was not statistically significant. There was a significant difference (t(16)= 3.02, P<0.025, 95% CI = 10.77, 55.79) between the Quality Score of Smart Snacks (M=59.13, SD= ± 36.50) and that of non-compliant snacks (M=25.85, SD= ± 24.72). Conclusion: The nutritional impact with even a 50% Smart Snack replacement is promising. Many available comparable snacks mimic the mouthfeel, taste, and appearance of their original full-fat, full-sodium, and full-sugar counterparts. Including healthier snack choices in vending machines may be a viable option for universities to transform the campus eating environment.
Mann, G., Lambert, L. G., Gupta, K., & Partacz, M. (2020). Smart snacks in universities: Possibilities for university vending. Health Promotion Perspectives, 10(4), 393–400. https://doi.org/10.34172/hpp.2020.58