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Md. Group Pushing Overhaul Of State-Owned Vending Machines

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- A quick snack can lead to bad habits and bad health in your children. Now there's a push to change what you can buy in vending machines.

Ava-Joye Burnett explains the proposed changes.

A Maryland group believes obesity and diabetes among kids have reached epidemic levels, but tackling the types of food in vending machines could make all the difference.

Vending machines are usually the go-to place for snacks, but an organization called Sugar Free Kids Maryland says what's in most vending machines is bad.

They want to change that--an effort to prevent chronic diseases in kids.

"Our children are facing a health crisis. This generation is the first in history to face shorter life spans than any other," said Robi Rawl, executive director, Sugar Free Kids Maryland.

CDC data from 2013 says almost a third of Maryland children between 2 and 5 years old are overweight or obese.

"It's a tremendous issue, what I see every day with children that come in," said Dr. Damien Myers, Western High School.

Dr. Myers says bad eating habits among kids are hard to break as adults--an unfortunate cycle.

"It really breaks my heart because these are chronic illnesses that a lot of times don't go away," he said.

Howard County and the city of Baltimore have already made the change.

As it stands right now, every city-owned building in Baltimore is required to have at least 50 percent of the items in their vending machines be healthy ones.

"I was actually pretty excited because I think the previous vending machines didn't have much of a selection that I enjoyed," said Sophie Sembajwe.

Sugar Free Kids Maryland will push the healthy vending machines agenda in Annapolis during the upcoming session.

Supporters insist the changes would not take away your options.

"So the treats are still there--the Coca-Cola and Doritos will still be in vending machines--but so will healthy options," said Rawl.

Baltimore started requiring those healthier options in Government buildings last August.

The group also says other states, like California and Tennessee, already have these healthier vending machines.

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