Abu Dhabi Public Health Centre (ADPHC), the government entity accelerating the UAE’s mission towards a healthy and safe society by bolstering public health initiatives, has initiated its healthy vending machine program across Abu Dhabi’s healthcare entities. This initiative is in line with ADPHC’s objective to provide easily accessible and nutritious food options as an effective method to combat chronic diseases.
ADPHC’s Healthy Vending Machine Guidelines were first introduced in 2021 and implemented across healthcare facilities in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi as part of a phased approach, with the objective of providing visitors and employees in healthcare facilities with healthier snack options than those regularly available in vending machines. The food options now sold in vending machines across Abu Dhabi’s healthcare facilities are approved by a specialized team of ADPHC experts. The most recent audit of healthcare organizations in Abu Dhabi, completed in partnership with the Emirates Classification Society (TASNEEF) in 2021, reports a 95 per cent adherence and application rate.
H.E. Dr. Omniyat Al Hajri, Executive Director – Health Community, ADPHC, said: “Adopting a healthy lifestyle and consuming healthy food options is an integral step towards maintaining the health and safety of community members and combatting chronic diseases. We are committed to supporting the food industry by working hand-in-glove to implement the latest technologies and innovation and confirm adherence to evidence-based research and guidelines, in efforts to ensure that all vending machines across healthcare facilities provide healthy options – for patients, visitors, and employees.”
As part of the initiative, ADPHC is providing technical support and expert consultation to food establishments and suppliers, in addition to training sessions and materials for employees in the food industry, in adherence to its Healthy Vending Machine Guidelines.
Maryam Al-Mansoori, Head of the Nutrition Department, ADPHC, said: “Healthy vending machines include low-calorie drinks such as low-fat and unflavoured dairy drinks, natural water, juices made from natural fruits, unsweetened tea or coffee, and snacks such as natural unflavoured popcorn, baked potato chips, unsalted nuts and seeds, fruits and vegetables without additives, and dark chocolate. Soft drinks that contain high sugar, energy drinks, nuts that contain added oils and that are high in salt, fried potato chips, chocolate, candy and other sweets such as toffee and lollipops, are now prohibited from being made available in vending machines.”
To encourage users to choose healthier food options, the display of the food items in vending machines was adjusted to show the healthier options in a prominent manner with the lesser healthy options in lower shelves to persuade visitors and employees to opt for healthier food items. In addition, healthcare facilities across Abu Dhabi are providing patients, visitors, and employees with informative leaflets to help increase awareness and create a shift in consuming habits.