Vending machine assessment methodology. A systematic review

Melissa A. Matthews, Tanya M. Horacek

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


The nutritional quality of food and beverage products sold in vending machines has been implicated as a contributing factor to the development of an obesogenic food environment. How comprehensive, reliable, and valid are the current assessment tools for vending machines to support or refute these claims? A systematic review was conducted to summarize, compare, and evaluate the current methodologies and available tools for vending machine assessment. A total of 24 relevant research studies published between 1981 and 2013 met inclusion criteria for this review. The methodological variables reviewed in this study include assessment tool type, study location, machine accessibility, product availability, healthfulness criteria, portion size, price, product promotion, and quality of scientific practice. There were wide variations in the depth of the assessment methodologies and product healthfulness criteria utilized among the reviewed studies. Of the reviewed studies, 39% evaluated machine accessibility, 91% evaluated product availability, 96% established healthfulness criteria, 70% evaluated portion size, 48% evaluated price, 52% evaluated product promotion, and 22% evaluated the quality of scientific practice. Of all reviewed articles, 87% reached conclusions that provided insight into the healthfulness of vended products and/or vending environment. Product healthfulness criteria and complexity for snack and beverage products was also found to be variable between the reviewed studies. These findings make it difficult to compare results between studies. A universal, valid, and reliable vending machine assessment tool that is comprehensive yet user-friendly is recommended.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)176-186
Number of pages11
StatePublished - Jul 1 2015


  • Beverages
  • Environment
  • Snacks
  • Vending machines

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


Dive into the research topics of 'Vending machine assessment methodology. A systematic review'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this