Healthy Habits Start Young
Because obesity is such a prevalent issue in the United States, everyone is looking for ways to reverse the epidemic. One intelligent way to help our obese children is by taking away all the sugar infested drinks that we provide for them and replacing them with water. It’s actually been shown to work and is also cost saving and convenient.
There was a study done in Germany comparing schools that were upgraded with more water fountains and water bottles for the children to other schools that were not. The children were encouraged by their teacher to drink water and were told about the benefits of it. They were allowed to fill their water bottles at the beginning of the day so that they would always have a drink handy. The teachers even agreed to throw in little messages throughout the day about how healthy water is and why it is a better choice than soda. By the end of the year, the children that had more exposure to water were 30% less likely to be overweight than the groups that didn’t have the water promotion. Their risks of becoming overweight, and therefore, other health risks were actually decreased with the simple switch to water.
The idea behind this study is that one in every five calories consumed is from a liquid. Basically, what we choose to drink affects our weight. Because 90% of school aged children drink sugar-sweetened beverages everyday, substituting water seems like an easy solution to reduce calories. In fact, if this change is made, on average, 235 calories will be completely eliminated from a child’s diet. There is no evidence that the child will have an increased appetite to make up for those calories, so it is a healthy solution.
What needs to happen to make this change possible is that parents and school faculty need to accept responsibility for promoting better habits. It is not the fault of McDonald’s or the soda companies, it is the choices that the adults in children’s lives are making for them. Save soda as a treat for special occasions. Allow them access to water by placing paper cups close to the refrigerator or sink so they may get their own drink when thirsty. Take vending machines out of schools that do not provide water in them. Most importantly, make the change with your children. They will become accustomed to drinking water if you are beside them doing it as well.
To take it a step further, there is nothing worse than pouring a nice, fresh glass of ice water only to realize that the water has an odor or a chemical taste to it. Provide your household with a water filtration system of some kind to allow your children to enjoy the taste of it. There are faucet attachments, refrigerator dispenser filters, and even water coolers. In turn, you are eliminating any contaminants, which will certainly ensure the good health of your children. Switching to water is an easy enough way to keep your child healthy and to prevent them from having health risks in the future.
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