Primary school children drink too little water, study shows


Not only do primary school pupils arrive at school with low hydration levels, most of them don’t improve the level during the day

A study has shown that schoolchildren are insufficiently hydrated throughout the day. What should be done about it?

And they don’t like the toilets

Three-quarters of primary school children in Belgium drink too little water and 92% don’t like using the toilet facilities at school, according to a study released by Ghent University (UGent) commissioned by water producer Spa.

From September to November 2014, UGent scientists examined hydration levels of primary school pupils and the school’s drinks policies. The study was based on urine samples collected at the start of the school day and after each visit to the toilet.

The researchers found that 75% of the children were insufficiently hydrated when arriving at school and 53% remained insufficiently hydrated during the course of the day. Hydration levels were higher in schools that provided water during sports and recreational activities or during lunch breaks. The situation was also better in schools that integrated the topic in their curriculum or that allowed children to drink water during lessons.

“It’s crucial for schools to discuss and to develop policies on hydration and visit to the toilet,” said UGent researcher Nathalie Michiels. Children more often visit the toilet in schools that include the topic in their lesson programme or take action to make the toilets nice.

Water producer Spa, which ordered the study, has developed a pedagogical kit on the theme.