Sugary drink makers, including Coca-Cola Co., PepsiCo Inc. and Dr. Pepper Snapple Group Inc., will add calorie counts to vending machines to help consumers make healthy choices.
The American Beverage Association (ABA) announced on Monday that a new Calories CountTM Vending Program will be launched in municipal buildings in the cities of Chicago and San Antonio beginning in 2013 and then in other places across the country.
The vending machines will come with messages like "Check then Choose" and "Try a Low-Calorie Beverage" to help consumers choose a low-calorie drink. Calorie labels will be added to selection buttons to show calorie count per beverage container, ABA said.
"These vending machines will allow Chicago's workers to make healthy choices and good decisions, in keeping with their individual wellness goals. I am pleased that Chicago is one of the first cities in the country to offer these machines that help to promote healthy lifestyles," said Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
Last month, fast-food giant McDonald's had announced that it will put up calorie information in over 14,000 restaurants across the country. Sugary drinks have been blamed for the rise of obesity in the U.S. Recently three large studies have said that sugary drinks increase the risk of obesity.
New York City passed the first U.S. ban on oversized fizzy drinks last month.
"People tend to overconsume products with sugar and for these companies to be doing something that may decrease consumption of their sugared beverages surprises me. But it does seem to me to be a positive move," said Kelly D. Brownell, director of the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale University, The New York Times reports.
The ABA has said that it is giving a $5 million grant toward "wellness competition'' between public-sector employees in Chicago and San Antonio. The winning city will receive the prize money while employees can win $1,000 by improving their health, according to media reports.
"We believe partnerships like this - those which involve government, industry and civil society - can have a meaningful impact on the obesity issue. We applaud the cities of Chicago and San Antonio for joining us in this innovative initiative," said Steve Cahillane, President and CEO, Coca-Cola Refreshments in a press release.