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Water fountains (remember those?) might help kids fight fat

April 1, 2009 |  1:52 pm

Fountain As schools wring their figurative hands about the growing waistlines of their young charges and what that bodes for the future, maybe they should look to the past -- specifically to water fountains.

A study published online Monday in the journal Pediatrics suggests that installing water fountains and offering classroom lessons about the benefits of water consumption can reduce obesity in second- and third-graders.

The researchers studied a total of almost 3,000 children in 32 German elementary schools. The risk that a kid would be overweight dropped by 31% in those schools with the water program.

The researchers didn't tease out the precise impact of giving each kid his or her own water bottle -- and periodically telling them to go fill it up. But having known a few second- and third-graders, I'd say it might have been considerable.

The researchers did point out: "From a public health perspective, it is of importance that this intervention was effective in a deprived population, in which the prevalence of obesity was up to 3 times greater than that among children of a higher socioeconomic background."

Of note, though water consumption increased in the intervention group, the consumption of sugar-containing beverages didn't vary much between schools with the spanking new fountains and water education and those without such measures.

No word on what the resulting bathroom breaks might have done for classroom time. The point is: The drink-more-water program seems to work.

Of course, for the program to work, the water fountains have to work.

-- Tami Dennis

Photo credit: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times