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Schools getting ‘hydro-charged’

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The wave of water-only schools is gathering pace, as more schools see the benefits ditching the sugary drinks can bring them.

​Levin, Tokomaru, and Terrace End schools are the latest in the MidCentral district to take up the water-only approach, with the help of MDHB’s Public Health and Child Adolescent Oral Health teams, and the Heart Foundation.

There are three levels in the water-only toolkit provided to schools, which makes it easy for schools to take gradual steps toward phasing out sugary, unhealthy drinks. When a school is at level three of the toolkit, they will have a water-only policy in place, which permits students to only have water or plain reduced-fat milk at school, and removes all other drinks from school cafeterias and events.

MDHB’s Health Promoting Schools Advisor, Emma Williams, said: “For kids to be healthy and focussed at school, they need to be well-hydrated. By choosing to go water-only, schools are ensuring that their students are staying hydrated, while preventing the negative health impacts that come with drinks like fizzy or juice, such as tooth decay, weight gain, or loss of focus in the classroom.

“When it’s recommended that children have no more than five teaspoons of added sugar a day, and a single 600mL bottle of fizzy can have around 16 teaspoons, it’s easy to see that there are a lot of health implications from that.

“The schools have been great to work with, and there has been a lot of enthusiasm from staff, parents and students, who see the real benefits of ditching sugar-sweetened beverages from the school environment.”
Paddy Sannazzaro, principal at Levin School said: “It’s early days for the school being water-only, but the students have really embraced the concept. I’ve already had one six-year-old boasting about how they have healthy-water in their drink bottle.

“We’ve worked closely with the school community to keep them informed during this process and we had a lot of support, resulting in our Board of Trustees adopting the water-only policy in February. There are really clear health benefits from being water-only and we look forward to seeing these in our students over the coming months.”

Any school wanting to know more about becoming water-only can check out the toolkit on the DHB website or ring the Public Health team on (06) 350 9110.

Contact: Communications Unit (06) 350-8945

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