Water dispensers in schools could tilt the overweight statistics for the better according to the findings of a newly published study. The research, published in the JAMA Pediatrics on January 19th, analyzed the case of New York City schools which benefited from the introduction of water dispensers.
The cafeterias of 40 percent of the schools participating in a program introduced by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene in collaboration with the Department of Education had self-serve water dispensers. By analyzing health data on the students attending these schools in comparison with those attending the 60 percent which didn’t have water dispensers, the researchers reached a simple solution to fight overweight and obesity. Water dispensers in schools could tilt the overweight statistics for students.
Overweight and obesity are a health problem for children and adolescents alike. However, given the choice of free water over sugary drinks or chocolate milk, most of the students will opt for the healthier option. The study, led by a research team from the NYU Langone Medical Center in collaboration with The NYU Institute for Education and Social Policy as well as the Center for Policy Research – Syracuse University reported the findings of the analysis conducted on 1,227 students. Water dispensers or water jets as they are otherwise known made a difference in driving down the BMI of students.
Brian Elbel, senior author of the study, stated that the research proved simple solutions may be the most effective:
“providing free and readily available water to students may have positive impacts on their overall health, particularly weight management”.
Water is crucial for a balanced diet. Not only does it fight dehydration, but also provides a healthy alternative to sugary drinks while being essential to a good functioning of the body. Water dispensers offering free water to students may help shape their choices for a healthier diet.
During the five-year timeframe during which the study was conducted, the impact of water dispensers became clear in the 40 percent of the schools which benefited from their introduction. Annually, each school collects health data on students, including their weight, height and BMI. For the study, the research team compared the BMI of the students before and following the introduction of water jets. In the schools that had water dispensers in the cafeteria, the standardized BMI decreased.
For boys, the decrease was calculated at 025, while for girls it was .022. The students attending schools where water jets weren’t available didn’t present a decrease in BMI. Moreover, for the students who had access to water dispensers, the likelihood of gaining weight decreased by .9 for boys and .6 for girls.
Photo Credits: Pixabay