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Issue Date: Vol. 44, No. 4, April 2004, Posted On: 4/8/2004

NAMA Plans 'Balance For Life' Obesity Initiative

Tim Sanford

LAS VEGAS - The National Automatic Merchandising Association is planning a major public relations effort intended to communicate the role of vending in meeting U.S. consumers demand, and the importance of making good food and beverage selections in the context of a lifestyle that balances caloric intake with caloric expenditure every day.

Called "Balance for Life," the plan was approved by NAMA's leadership. Proposals from professional public relations agencies were requested, and were received on the eve of the NAMA Spring Expo here.

"The obesity challenge could be the most serious that we've ever faced," said NAMA chairman Dick Atnip in opening remarks at the Spring Expo. "We have to do whatever it takes to respond. When you're asked to participate, step up," he urged.

The concern is that the public, alarmed by media accounts of the dangerous increase in childhood and adult obesity that has been occurring over the past decade, will acquiesce in proposals to limit consumer refreshment choices by restricting or regulating particular retailing methods, such as vending machines.

NAMA president and chief executive officer Rich Geerdes told Spring Expo convention-goers that the association plans to ask its membership for assistance in funding the "Balance for Life" educational program. Requiring more resources than any one entity can devote to it, it is within the means of the industry working together, Geerdes emphasized; and it is essential in order to prevent the emergence of a sort of  "food police" that would cripple consumer freedom of choice without solving the underlying problem.

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