HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The State spends more than $120 million a year on obesity and diabetes related medical costs and it's trying to get people to eat healthier, starting with government employees.
At the current pace the State predicts half of the adults in Hawaii will be obese in just 16 years, unless changes are made.
Those changes start with food choice which is why the State launched the vending project called Choose Healthy Now, marking foods with green, yellow or red labels depending on their nutritional value.
"To be a green item they have to be something we know is really good for us, fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds and low fat or non fat dairy," said Carolyn Donohoe-Mather, Public Health Nutritionist.
Anything with artificial sweeteners is a yellow and those foods high in fat, sugar and salt are red.
"It makes a difference. You know how we say you are what you eat, well we eat where we are and we eat what we have so this makes healthy beverages, healthy snacks and healthy foods more available where we are and where we work," said Lola Irvin, Healthy Hawaii Initiative.
The program is starting in eight snack shops in state and city buildings and hopes to expand into the private sector as well. The shop at the Department of Health is the first to implement it.
"I was kind of hesitant because I don't know where to get healthy option items," said Norm Ota, who operates the shop in the Department of Health. "I kind of like getting in the habit of checking what's in it."
Those red items like the candy bars and soda's will still be available because the businesses still need to make money.
"On the one side if we don't have the options we can't practice the choice. On the other side if we don't go and choose it's going to hurt the bottom line of these vendors," said Irvin.
The state is also encouraging its employees to take the stairs instead of the elevator when they're going to get that snack.