Good ole H2O

It is a fact that the body needs water in order to function.  Water is required for it to develop properly because just about everything in the body relies on water.  We drink it to quench our thirst and in turn it flushes out the things that are not good for  us.  There are guidelines regarding the amount of water that should be consumed by children on a daily basis, and it turns out that children are not taking in enough of this clear,  calorie-free drink.

A study was conducted by Harvard School of Public Health and was found that over fifty percent of school-age children were not consuming enough water.  How is this possible?  First let’s take a look at a few things starting with water itself.  What exactly is water ? We all learned in science class that it goes by another name – H20, which is the chemical name for it.  Water is a basic molecule consisting of two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom and when these atoms bond together they form one powerful molecule – water, which covers about 70 percent of the surface of the earth.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC)  states that the water that we drink comes from many places such as private wells,  public water systems and bottled water.  This is good information to know, for we should all be aware of where drinking water comes from, how it has been treated and if it is safe to drink.

Barriers to drinking water

Having access to water that is safe to drink can present as a problem for some people.  The problem is that there is  a possibility of contamination from sources such as lead, so much that school systems around the country are now conducting tests for lead in drinking water.  The shocking part is that in some schools the results are coming back positive.  The tragedy in Flint Michigan set off a chain-like reaction where testing took place in schools such as Newark, New Jersey where according to a New York Times article, levels of lead were discovered in the water and the water fountains at 30 buildings, which were shut off until further tests could be conducted.  The  good news with that was that lead was not found in the city water supply as with the case in Flint.

New York  City which is said to have one of the best water systems in the nation followed what Newark, NJ did and found eight fountains at one elementary school contaminated and had them removed.  They conducted further tests and found the rest of their drinking fountains to be safe.  Lead levels have been noted in schools across the country, from an elementary school in California to Jackson, Mississippi. Guardian

The case with the school system is that water from the city supply is not necessarily bad, it’s that the pipes are so old that lead seeps into them causing them to become contaminated.   Bottled water was shipped in for the students and staff.  We have bottled water in our school, all the water fountains were removed.  Having a water cooler is not all that it is cracked up to be, it has its plus as well as minuses.  The plus side is that you are privileged to cool, refreshing water, the downside is that it requires having a cup or something to drink out of.   The students usually get paper cups (the cone-shaped ones), they seem so small to me, that in order for a student to quench their thirst they would have to drink about ten of them.

Provide support

Children need as much encouragement as possible to stay hydrated and it is imperative that they have access to safe drinking water.  It would be beneficial also to reduce the access of sugary drinks.  For instance at school this can accomplished by ensuring water is available in the cafeteria’s vending machine.  At home parents can continue to serve as role models and consume water instead of soda whenever possible.   When you make the snack or lunch for school, add a bottle of water to go along with that juice.  Use every opportunity to promote the need to drink water.

How much water does a child need?

The experts from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics stated that the amount per day depends on several things such as how much a child weighs, how old they are and whether they are a boy or girl.  Keep in mind that water sources come from many places such as food, as well as fruits and vegetables, so that gives you another reason to eat more fruits and vegetables.  Basically children need about 6 to 8 cups a day.  If they are exercising that should be taken into consideration, they made need to consume more water than they normally would.  If they are indeed physically active they should be drinking about a cup to two cups of water for every 15 to 20 minutes of exercise.  Here is a breakdown of the requirements:

Age                                                    sex                                          cups per day

4 to 8                                               girl/boys                                       5

9 to 13                                              girls                                               7

9 to 13                                              boys                                               8

14 to 18                                           girls                                                8

14 to 18                                           boys                                               11

As you can see the older the child the more water they are required to consume.  Now that we know that they are not drinking enough water and how much they should be drinking, what other choices are available?  Coconut water is a very popular drink, and is said to be quite healthy.  My colleagues swear by it, I have tried it but cannot acquire a taste for it.  The fruit smoothies are popular, be sure to monitor how much sugar is added.  Ice tea and lemon-aide are always a good choice, as far as ice tea, I like the ones that have just a little sugar added, where it’s not too bitter, but not too sweet.

Drinking sugary drinks all the time can add to a child’s weight as well as contribute to poor oral hygiene.  Dehydration is not a good thing, it’s not good for the mind for it impedes academic performance and it affects the overall health of a person.


About smallfitness

I am Dr. Martha Higgins, but my friends call me “Doc”. I teach physical education to elementary students and have been doing so for the past 15 years.

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One Response to Good ole H2O

  1. fitnessgrad says:

    This was a great post! way to share some good information about water and the importance. I am one of those people who seem to always fall short in drinking enough water on a daily basis, I don’t love the taste of water, but I am slowly finding new ways to make sure I drink more (even if I don’t always hit my goals) I drink it.


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