MILAN - Lately the media has been reporting the conclusions of an American study published in “Jama Pediatrics” which shows that encouraging the consumption of water in schools can aid students in managing their weight. The study involved over 1,000 schools in New York, including more than one million children: at the institutions where machines were installed to provide bottles of fresh water at a low cost, the scientists observed a reduction in body mass index (BMI) and in the likelihood of the students becoming overweight or obese.
The value of hydration for children
"The results of this study confirm the importance of hydration for children and teenagers; in the context of a healthy lifestyle water should be the first choice", says Prof. Umberto Solimene, member of the Sanpellegrino Observatory and President of the FEMTEC and of the Centre for Research in Medical Bioclimatology, Thermal Medicine, and the Science of Wellbeing at the University of Milan, "this is because it is a zero-calorie drink without any sugar, additives, or acidity". As this study demonstrates, consuming water is not associated with any weight gain or metabolic disorders. Additionally, it should be noted that inadequate hydration in school environment can adversely affect cognitive performance. A mild loss of water, some 1-2% of total body weight, can have negative repercussions on one's ability to concentrate, while losses exceeding 2% can adversely affect the brain's processing abilities", explains Prof. Solimene.
The educational campaign Hydration@School
It is especially important to encourage children to make healthy drinking choices at their desks and to prefer water. Based on these findings, the educational campaign Hydration@school by the Food Education Italy (Italian Foundation for Nutrition Education in schools) is being promoted by the Sanpellegrino Group. Hydration@school is an educational project aimed at Primary Schools throughout Italy to inform young students, teachers, and families about the importance of proper hydration for one's physical and mental well-being.
Today there are several nutrition education programs for children which often address matters of health and well-being, focusing on the characteristics of food and on presenting diets of various kinds; however, rarely is enough attention given to the matter of water consumption and on how essential it is to remain well hydrated.
Now in its second addition, the program may be developed throughout the 2015-2016 school year. The fulcrum of the campaign is the website www.hydrationatschool.it which serves as a “container” of useful tools for its implementation in schools, while also serving as a space for interaction among program participants. Teachers can also use the site to request teaching kits (completely free of charge) which include a Mini Teacher's Guide, help setting up classroom lessons, 22 HydroNotebooks with information and games for students and their families, and an educational infographic poster to hang in the classroom.
by Alessandro Michielli