From: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Published November 7, 2017 12:13 PM

Study: Serving Water With School Lunches Could Prevent Child, Adult Obesity

Encouraging children to drink plain water with their school lunches could prevent more than half a million youths in the U.S. from becoming overweight or obese, and trim the medical costs and indirect societal costs associated with these problems by more than $13 billion, a new study suggests.

The findings were based on the nationwide expansion of a pilot program that was conducted in 1,200 elementary and middle school schools in New York City between 2009 and 2013. When water dispensers were placed in school cafeterias, students’ consumption of water at lunchtime tripled and was associated with small but significant declines in their risks of being overweight one year later, researchers found.

According to a cost-benefit analysis conducted by University of Illinoiskinesiology and community health professor Ruopeng An, expanding the program to all public and private schools nationwide would cost a total of about $18 for the entirety of each student’s K-12 years  – but could yield an average net benefit to society of $174 across each person’s lifetime, or a total of $13 billion.

An’s model assumed permanent reductions in the incidence of adults who are  overweight or obese, as well as decreased medical and indirect costs such as absenteeism and reduced productivity.

Read more at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Image: University of Illinois kinesiology and community health professor Ruopeng An's analysis suggests that nationwide expansion of a program in New York City schools that encouraged children to consume water with their lunches could reduce child and adult obesity rates in the US significantly, saving billons in medical costs and other expenses over children's lifetimes. (Credit: Photo by L. Brian Stauffer)

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