School-based interventions to promote water consumption
Did you know that drinking water can improve children’s attention and memory? In this way, drinking water may help children to perform better at school. Schools are a good setting to develop and promote healthy habits, including drinking water. What are effective ways for schools to encourage youth to drink more water?
Beverage consumption among youth
Water is one of the most healthy and hydrating beverages. However, children and adolescents often do not drink enough water. Children and adolescents frequently consume a large amount of sugar-sweetened beverages, for example soft drinks, fruit drinks and energy drinks. Drinking a lot of these beverages has been related to weight gain and other negative health effects. Consuming fewer sugar-sweetened beverages and replacing these beverages with drinking water could help to reduce energy intake and meet guidelines for healthy beverage intake.
Techniques to promote water consumption
There are different ways to promote water consumption among children and adolescents.
Psychosocial theories have indicated a variety of techniques which can be used to change behaviour. Examples of techniques to increase adolescent’s water intake include:
- Changing the environment, like adding water coolers in the school
- Providing information on the health benefits of drinking water
- Giving cues, like providing reusable water bottles.
Effectiveness of interventions
Multiple research studies have tested if interventions at schools could increase water consumption among youth. A recent scientific article summarized the effectiveness of 11 interventions targeted at adolescents. The authors found that 7 of the 11 interventions (63.6%) increased adolescents’ water consumption. Interventions may be more effective if they are focused on both individuals (adolescents) and their environment (school). However, it is unknown which combination of behaviour change techniques is most effective.
Drinking water has many health benefits. It is important to encourage children and adolescents to choose water as a drink. Schools can use different techniques to promote water consumption among youth. These techniques could be targeted at individuals, as well as the environment in order to change behaviours and increase water consumption.
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