It’s a question asked by many parents: “How do I get my child to choose water over sugary drinks?”
NSW Central Coast Local Health District’s Health Promotion Unit is hoping to find the answer in their latest research project ‘Thirsty? Choose Water!’ which aims to increase students’ water intake and improve their knowledge of good beverage choices.
The ‘Thirsty? Choose Water’ project is funded through the NSW Ministry of Health as a Translational Research Grant.
Led by Central Coast Local Health District (CCHLD), the study is currently being rolled out across 61 high schools on the Central Coast, Illawarra Shoalhaven and in South West Sydney.
It involves providing chilled water stations and delivering educational messages about drinking water to students during their Year 7 immunisation program and PDHPE lessons.
“We are currently working with the schools involved to find out how much water their students are currently drinking, install the chilled water stations and develop ways to promote the ‘choose water’ message,” Director of Health Promotion Niki Kajons said.
“Central Coast PDHPE teachers recently attended a workshop with our team on how to best deliver the ‘choose water’ message in PDHPE classes.”
Kojons said students will be surveyed at the beginning and throughout the project and regular water meter readings from the chilled water stations will be taken.
“It is hoped that the outcomes of the study will demonstrate how best to get young people drinking water instead of sugar sweetened beverages, which is an important step towards tackling childhood obesity,” Kajons said.
CCLHD needed drinking water stations that combined water bottle refill technologies equipped with drinking bubbler nozzles, which could be easily installed and accessed by all ages.
In addition to this they have added water meters and data logger to access water consumption data remotely.
CCLHD contacted CIVIQ because of the company’s range of Elkay wall-mounted drinking water stations, built for outdoor and indoor applications.
Project coordinators selected the Elkay EZH2O Vandal-Resistant Bottle Refill Station with Single Drinking Fountain because of its durable, compact design with hybrid functionalities.
The Elkay EZH2O VR is a user-friendly solution to drinking water, with an easy-to-push button which dispenses a quick rate of refrigerated water through anti-bacterial bottle refill and bubbler nozzles.
The heavy-duty, wall-mounted design meant that each school could install the unit at any height, granting plenty of room for younger students and wheelchair users.
Whilst the EZH2O VR dispenses fresh drinking water for students, promoting sustainability in the school environment is also being achieved with an in-built Green Ticker which indicates the number of bottles being saved from waste by each school.
The program is in its early stages, with a report due to be available in 2019.
At the conclusion of this research, if results indicate that water consumption has increased, then the remaining schools that did not receive a station as part of the research will have a chilled water station installed for students.
This is an excellent initiative by the CCLHD with support of School Infrastructure NSW, as it is not only keeping students hydrated, but is playing an important role in promoting healthy lifestyles to adolescents.