Free Drinking Water Available to Most U.S. Kids at School Lunch04/09/14
WEDNESDAY, April 9, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Most schools meet a
new U.S. government requirement to provide free drinking water for
students during lunchtime, a new study finds.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's rule for schools in the
National School Lunch Program took effect at the start of the
2011-2012 school year.
Most schools fulfill the requirement by having water fountains
in the cafeteria, providing cups for use at drinking fountains,
placing water pitchers on lunch tables and offering free bottled
Schools in the South were more likely to meet the requirements
than those in other regions of the nation, according to the study
published April 9 in the
Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
"This is consistent with other nationally representative research showing that school districts in the South have made faster progress in developing nutrition-related school wellness policies, and that they have stronger policies than do districts in other regions of the U.S.," study corresponding author Lindsey Turner, a research scientist at the Institute for Health Research and Policy at the University of Illinois at Chicago, said in a journal news release.
The researchers also found that concerns about water fountain
cleanliness and water quality might make some students avoid the
free drinking water. Most of the students said the water fountains
in their schools were "very clean" or "clean," but there were still
concerns about cleanliness.
One-quarter of middle school and high school students said they
were at least "a little" concerned about the quality of the
drinking water available at their schools.
Ease and access of use of water fountains may be another
obstacle, according to the researchers.
"Although many schools rely on water fountains, fountains may not be very effective at encouraging water consumption," Turner said. "The elementary students may need permission to get up, and if water is not available on the table with the meal, students must make a special trip and may have to wait in line to get water. So in terms of practicality, drinking fountains may not meet the need for access to water during meals."
Water is important in overall health, but less than one-third of
children and teens get the recommended daily amount of water.
Instead, many youngsters drink sugar-sweetened beverages that can
contribute to obesity and dental problems, the study authors
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more
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