Monday, April 06, 2009

Drinking Fountains Prevent Childhood Obesity?

Chalk up another victory for changing the environment (rather than the individual)!

This study appeared in the most recent edition of the journal Pediatrics and it details the outcome of a very simple environmental change - the installation of water fountains in elementary schools.

The fountains were installed in 17 schools and 1,641 children received 4 class based educational sessions surrounding the importance of drinking water and its substitution for sugary beverages (juice included). Meanwhile 15 other control schools with 1,309 children didn't get the fountains or the education.

The results?

Water consumption was 1.1 glasses more per day per child in the intervention group vs. the control, but more importantly,
"After the intervention, the risk of overweight was reduced by 31% in the intervention group, compared with the control group"
Interestingly no significant intervention effect on juice and soft drink consumption was found (though there was an insignificant decrease in juice consumption) so how this intervention affected its changes is still unclear.

One thing's for sure however - the study needs to be repeated. We've longed for a "fluoride in the water" style solution to preventing childhood obesity, and while I doubt the solution will simply be water, seeing studies designed to change the environment is certainly heartening.