An exploration of factors that influence the regular consumption of water by Irish primary school children

Community Nutrition & Dietetic Service, Health Service Executive-Dublin Mid-Leinster, Mullingar, Co. Westmeath, Ireland.
Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics (Impact Factor: 1.99). 11/2008; 21(5):512-5. DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-277X.2008.00880.x
Source: PubMed


Inadequate hydration has been linked to many factors that may impact on children's education and health. Teachers play an important role in the education and behaviour of children. Previous research has demonstrated low water intake amongst children and negative teachers' attitudes to water in the classroom. The present study aimed to explore teachers' knowledge about water and the perceived barriers to allowing children access to water during lesson time.
In-depth interviews were conducted with 12 teachers from primary schools in the Midlands of Ireland. Interviews were continued until there was saturation of the data. Thematic analysis of the data was conducted.
Participants had a poor knowledge of hydration requirements and the associated health benefits and effect on concentration. Low water intake amongst teachers and pupils, and barriers such as disruption to class and increased need to urinate, were reported. Teachers identified the hydration effect on learning as the education message most likely to influence the decision to allow water in the classroom.
The issues, opinions and perceived barriers raised by teachers as part of this qualitative research provide a basis for future health promotion around water.

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    • "Moreover, a recent survey among elementary school aged children in France suggested an inadequate water intake during the school day, warranting an assessment of fluid intake among Belgian schoolchildren [15]. Besides, after the survey, the school together with the parents could potentially educate or influence the fluid intake behavior of children, since they are an important reference for children [16,17]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Background In childhood, inadequate fluid intakes can lead on the short term, to reduced physical and cognitive performances. However, few data are available on the fluid intake among schoolchildren in Belgium. The main aim of this study is to evaluate total fluid intake provided by different types of beverages in a sample of Belgian schoolchildren, in order to assess the percentage of individuals complying with the European Food Safety Authority recommendations for total fluid intake. A secondary aim was to characterize the study population in terms of determinants of the total fluid intake requirements. Methods A child friendly “fluids and liquid food” diary was used to prospectively record the volume and frequency of beverage consumption over 7 days from 1045 schoolchildren. This diary also recorded the practice of physical activity. An adequate fluid intake was defined as an intake ≥ 75% of the age-specific adequate intake recommended by the EFSA. Results The median (P25-P75) of habitual daily fluid intake was 864 (608–1104) ml/day, with 355 (194–579) coming from drinking water. This habitual daily fluid intake varied significantly among the three investigated EFSA groups (girls and boys aged from 8 years, girls from 9 to 13 and boys from 9 to 13), except for the drinking water (P = 0.906). The highest medians of fruit juice, sugar-sweetened beverages and milk and derivatives were found among boys of 9–13. Only 9.5% of the children had an adequate fluid intake, with a value of 19.2% among the 8 years old girls and boys, 7.0% among girls of 9–13 and 8.4% among boys of 9–13. In the whole sample, 27.7% of the children declared to drink less than 3-4x/day, 56% drunk water less than 2x/day and 7.7% drunk no water at all. Every day, 27.1% and 34.1% of the children drank respectively one fruit juice and one sugar-sweetened beverage. Conclusion Belgian schoolchildren have an inadequate total fluid intake. Given the potential health consequences, interventions involving parents and school environment to promote water consumption seem pertinent.
    Full-text · Article · Jun 2014 · BMC Public Health
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    • "The main barriers preventing fluid intake at school appear to be that it is not deemed 'cool' or fashionable to drink water and it is often difficult for children to access water throughout the school day (Molloy et al. 2008). This may be because regular consumption of water is not always encouraged due to concerns that additional trips to the water fountain or the toilet will be disruptive to lessons (Molloy et al. 2008). "
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    ABSTRACT: Water is essential for health and vital for all bodily functions. If water losses are not replaced then dehydration can occur and even mild dehydration is associated with negative effects on health including impaired cognitive function. Studies in schoolchildren have found that many are arriving at school with a hydration deficit and, once they arrive, they are not drinking enough fluid throughout the day to maintain adequate hydration levels, thus potentially affecting their performance at school. Therefore, there is a need to highlight the importance of adequate hydration among schoolchildren. However, there is often confusion among parents, carers, health professionals and teachers about how much fluid children need to drink, as well as what drinks are most appropriate. This article provides a summary of the development of the Healthy hydration guide for children that was produced to help parents, carers, health professionals and teachers, and indeed children themselves, to choose a healthy balance of drinks to ensure optimal performance and health. It is hoped this resource will help children aged 4–13 years to establish healthy drinking behaviours.
    Preview · Article · Jun 2013 · Nutrition Bulletin
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    • "Although we found no significant differences in task performance, our study also suggests that dehydration negatively impacts brain functions underlying important cognitive processes in young people. These findings may be relevant to school policies regarding the availability of water as it has been shown that school children may suffer from moderate to severe dehydration, especially in hot environments [Bar-David et al., 2009] and that many teachers do not appreciate the importance of children being adequately hydrated [Molloy et al., 2008]. "
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    ABSTRACT: It was recently observed that dehydration causes shrinkage of brain tissue and an associated increase in ventricular volume. Negative effects of dehydration on cognitive performance have been shown in some but not all studies, and it has also been reported that an increased perceived effort may be required following dehydration. However, the effects of dehydration on brain function are unknown. We investigated this question using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) in 10 healthy adolescents (mean age = 16.8, five females). Each subject completed a thermal exercise protocol and nonthermal exercise control condition in a cross-over repeated measures design. Subjects lost more weight via perspiration in the thermal exercise versus the control condition (P < 0.0001), and lateral ventricle enlargement correlated with the reduction in body mass (r = 0.77, P = 0.01). Dehydration following the thermal exercise protocol led to a significantly stronger increase in fronto-parietal blood-oxygen-level-dependent (BOLD) response during an executive function task (Tower of London) than the control condition, whereas cerebral perfusion during rest was not affected. The increase in BOLD response after dehydration was not paralleled by a change in cognitive performance, suggesting an inefficient use of brain metabolic activity following dehydration. This pattern indicates that participants exerted a higher level of neuronal activity in order to achieve the same performance level. Given the limited availability of brain metabolic resources, these findings suggest that prolonged states of reduced water intake may adversely impact executive functions such as planning and visuo-spatial processing.
    Full-text · Article · Jan 2011 · Human Brain Mapping
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