Did you know the human body is made up of about 60-70% water? Drinking water is an important part of a child’s healthy diet; it helps keep their bodies, minds and teeth strong. These are big reasons to make it easy for children to get water throughout the day.
Because children spend a large part of their time at school, making it easy to drink water during the school day can have a large impact on a child’s health. The National School Lunch Program set standards requiring that schools make drinking water available to all students, for free and without any restrictions during breakfast and lunch. But having water available and having children choose to drink water are two different challenges.
Water filling stations are part of the solution. We at Denver Public Health suspect that having access to water from a water filling station may make it easier for children and families to replace sugary drinks like chocolate milk, juice, fruit punches, soda and sports drinks with the healthiest beverage of all. Plus, parents can save money by packing a refillable water bottle and then their child is set for the day.
Choosing water instead of sugary drinks may sound like a small change, but consider this: in Colorado, nearly 1 out of 5 children has at least 1 sugary drink per day. Hidden Sugar can hurt children’s health and replacing sugary drinks with water can prevent tooth decay, obesity and
type II diabetes.
This is why Delta Dental of Colorado Foundation, Denver Public Health, The Healthy Beverage Partnership, Southeastern Colorado Area Health Education Center and Westwood Unidos are teaming up with schools and recreation centers to see if having water filling stations at schools encourages more students to drink water.
Between the spring and fall of 2017, we’ve set a goal of installing water filling stations at seven community locations throughout the state. An evaluation during the fall will measure if a filling station encourages children to drink more water. Results of this project will be available at the end of the year and we’re excited to see how this small change may make a big difference in the health of our
Jennifer Moreland is the Chronic Disease Manager at Denver Public Health. She led the formation of and facilitates strategic planning for the Healthy Beverage Partnership, a collaboration of six Denver metro health departments working to reduce obesity and related chronic diseases.