A new study published in the journal Pediatrics shows that installing water fountains in schools can have a direct impact on childhood obesity rates. Surprised?
The study, conducted in Germany, involved 2 groups of second and third graders. The first group had water fountains installed in their schools, and were also presented 4 classroom lessons to promote water consumption. Each child was given a water bottle and teachers were encouraged to organize filling of the bottles each morning. The second group did not have any kind of intervention.
Almost 3,000 students were involved in the study which was conducted over one school year. The result? The risk of overweight was reduced by 31% in the intervention group. And water consumption after the intervention was 1.1 glasses per day greater in the intervention group.
It's not clear whether the risk of becoming overweight went down because of changes in the children's eating habits, drinking habits, or a combination of both. Maybe they ate less because the water filled them up. Maybe drinking more water discouraged the children from drinking higher-calorie juices or soda. Whatever the reason, starting early develops a healthy habit that can last a lifetime.
Many children face obstacles to a healthy diet each day when they go to school. High fat or high calorie meals in the lunch line (I remember Mondays were "tator-tot day" at my school), vending machines filled with soda, ho-ho's and cheese puffs are big temptations. But studies like this give hope that small changes can make a big impact on the health of our children.
What do you think? Are you surprised that these results were so significant? Does your child's school promote healthy habits like these?