University of Illinois Discovers Significant, Long-Term Health Benefits for Kids Who Drink Water with their School Lunch

In *All, Youth, Family, & Communities by Ag is America

A new study by the University of Illinois finds serving water with school lunches could prevent more than 500,000 youths from becoming overweight or obese, and reduce medical costs and indirect societal costs associated with these problems by more than $13 billion. These findings come from a cost-benefit analysis conducted by Ruopeng An, a kinesiology and community health professor at the University of Illinois.

An’s study is one of many reports on kids’ water consumptions in school. One study experimented with water dispensers in school cafeterias. After the installments, students’ water consumption tripled and was associated with small but significant declines in their risks of being overweight one year later. This information inspired some of An’s research, where he was particularly interested in how adding water to a meal can decrease the consumption of unhealthier food and drinks.

“The nutrition profile doesn’t change much when people increase their plain-water intake, but we do see a significant drop in their saturated fat and sugar intake,” An said. “While there might potentially be some problems if children consume less whole milk, I would say those are probably minor in comparison with the costs associated with the skyrocketing rates of childhood overweight and obesity in the U.S.”

An based these nutritional and financial discoveries off of the CDC’s definitions of children who are overweight or obese, the CDC’s calculated medical costs for adults who are overweight and obese, and taxes on schools’ sugary food and drinks. For more information on An’s study and the potential for students’ health, read more here.

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