How Water Dispensers in Schools Can Help Prevent Childhood Obesity

Research shows that water dispensers in schools helped NYC students consume less sugar.

How Water Dispensers in Schools Can Help Prevent Childhood Obesity

Every American drank about 39 gallons of bottled water last year, using and throwing out 50 billion plastic water bottles in the process.

That’s why we praised the New York City school system for its “water with lunch” campaign that brought large water dispensers (not bottled water) into some public schools: We knew it would mean more kids consuming fewer calorie-laden beverages and drinking more water, as well as eliminating plastic bottles. Win, win, win.

Well, the data on the test run is in. Researchers from the University of Illinois have done a cost-benefit analysis of that campaign and found:

  • Expanding the program to public and private schools nationwide can prevent more than 500,000 youngsters from becoming overweight or obese and trim down medical costs associated with kids’ weight-related problems.
  • Making water with lunch available to every child in grades K through 12 today would only cost about $18 per pupil. And the net benefit to society? $13 billion over those student’s lifetime.

So talk to your local school board and PTA about installing fresh water dispensers in all cafeterias and also discuss limiting the number of sugary beverages that are available to students. Concerned about water quality? Use an easy-to-install, on-tap water filter.

Medically reviewed in July 2018.

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