Home News Children need to drink more water, urge councils

Children need to drink more water, urge councils


Children and teenagers need to drink more water, instead of sugary drinks, to tackle the alarming rise in child obesity and reduce the risk of diabetes, say council leaders.

The Local Government Association, which represents more than 370 councils with responsibility for public health, is calling for water to be made more freely available in schools, nurseries and children’s centres to help make youngsters drink it more.

It wants the Government to make hydration in schools a part of its forthcoming child obesity strategy.

Children and teenagers get less than a quarter of their recommended daily fluid intake – approximately eight glasses – from water.

Council leaders say tap water needs to be “the default option” for young people, rather than squash or fizzy pop that is high in sugar.

Studies show that replacing one sugary drink with water each day can lower the risk of type 2 diabetes by 25 per cent, while replacing sweet drinks with water can eliminate 235 calories from diets.

Water is also said to improve children’s concentration in the classroom. Children who drank one litre of water over the course of a school day saw improvements to their short-term memory, according to a report.

Fluid intake is at its lowest in the morning, at a critical time when children need water to help them concentrate at school. A recent survey found just 6.1 per cent drank water in the morning, compared with 24.4 per cent at lunchtime or 33.5 per cent in the afternoon.

Researchers have even linked children not drinking enough fluids during the day with bedwetting, as it causes them to “overload” in the evening.

Cllr Izzi Seccombe, LGA Community Wellbeing spokeswoman, said:

“Children and teenagers are not drinking enough water. It is far too easy for them to choose a soft drink rather than a glass of water. We need to reverse this and make water more freely available in our schools, nurseries, children’s centres and colleges.

“The healthy option should be the default option. We want to make it just as easy for children to choose water as it is to choose a soft drink that is piled high in sugar.

“Swapping sugary drinks for water could make a big difference in helping to tackle major health problems such as obesity, diabetes and tooth decay, as well as improve concentration in the classroom.”

Case studies

Blackpool Council ran a Stoptober-style campaign where it worked with two schools and two colleges last autumn to get pupils to swap fizzy drinks for water for 21 days. More than 80 youngsters aged 11 to 18 signed up to the challenge.

This followed a survey which found 25 per cent of boys and 16 per cent of girls in the town were having fizzy drinks most days of the week. More than half those who switched to water said they were confident they could remain fizzy-free in the future.

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