SAN FRANCISCO – A new study offers a simple solution for getting kids to drink more water in schools or child-care settings: Make it more convenient.
Researchers from the University of California at San Francisco did an intervention study in 12 middle schools, giving some schools cold-water pitchers and some a cold-water dispenser. Those came with cups, signage and announcements. The rest just had their normal drinking fountains. The findings? About 20 percent more kids drank water in schools that served it cold, with cups.
Dr. Anisha Patel, an assistant professor in the division of general pediatrics at UCSF’s Benioff Children’s Hospital, said it’s an important finding, since most children don’t drink enough H20.
“Hydration status is associated with how students perform in school, their cognitive functioning,” she said. “It has no calories, no added sugar; it’s healthy.”
Water also helps fight obesity and cavities. A study done five years ago showed very few schools offer free water apart from their drinking fountains.
Patel said a recent federal law requires all school cafeterias to offer water free of charge. She said she hopes this study helps districts help their students make a healthier choice.
“This wasn’t a very expensive intervention. It cost, over time, about 4 cents per student, per day,” she said. “So that was an important finding from our study, because we know that a lot of schools are really struggling and don’t have funding to implement new programs.”
Patel said many schools in California now are opting to install “filling stations” for reusable water bottles.
The study is online at <https://www.cdc.gov/pcd/issues/2016/16_0108.htm>.