It's never been more important, or more easy, to drink a glass of water. Children are at greater risk of dehydration than adults due to their lower body weight and smaller reserve of body fluids, relying wholly on parents, carers and teachers to tell them to drink rather than recognising the 'need' to drink.
A new child friendly tool has been developed by the Natural Hydration Council (NHC) and in collaboration with the British Nutritional Foundation (BNF) which aims to provide important hydration advice for parents and children on healthy hydration guidelines. The picture tool is especially important for growing youngsters as it takes into account the impact some drinks have on dental health and also advice on how much kids need to drink.
Research led by Dr Emma Derbyshire of Manchester Metropolitan University and in association with the National Hydration Council, found that children who had water provided for them at school had increased levels of cognition, including factors such as visual memory and performance. Dr Derbyshire commented:
“This research indicates that adequately hydrated children may perform better and be better behaved in school. It also backs up the new Children’s Hydration Glass, which clearly specifies where priorities should lie in terms of hydration choices and also presents this information in an engaging way for children.”
It is hopeful that this new research and tool can clear up any confusion with how much fluid children should be drinking and how often.
Interestingly, part of Dr Derbyshire's research showed that older children taking water into exams, performed academically better than those who went without. Maybe we should all follow this practise within our workplaces and our home environments too!
Younger children need relatively small servings (e.g. 150ml per drink) and older children need larger servings (e.g. 250–300ml per drink).The new picture (above) can help parents and children determine how much water they've had and much much more they should drink. The project as a whole is hoped to help reinforce healthy hydration habits in children.
Dr Derbyshire’s Top Tips for School Hydration
1. Children should aim to have 6-8 drinks per day which should ideally be water but milk, weak squash and diluted fruit juices are also good choices.
2. Put a bottle of water in lunch boxes as this is the fluid that the BNF advises drinking ‘plenty of’.
3. Children should be encouraged to sip fluids at regular intervals throughout the day i.e. a lot of children drink fluids at the end of the day when feelings of dehydration have already started to set in.
More information and a downloadable version of the ‘Children’s Hydration Glass’ is available from www.naturalhydrationcouncil.org.uk.