Star of CBBC’s Gastronauts and Incredible Edibles Stefan Gates is sharing his top tips to encourage children to have fun with water and make it their first choice for hydration as part of a new campaign launched by the Natural Hydration Council (NHC) and Children’s Food Trust.
The Wise up with Water campaign has been launched after an NHC survey[i] found significant gaps in children’s knowledge and behaviour regarding healthy hydration.
Water is essential for life[ii] and is one of the healthiest ways to hydrate, however, one in 10 (9.4%) of the 7-9 year olds surveyed believed that the body can survive without water.
Staying well hydrated is even more important for children as they are at greater risk of dehydration than adults due to their higher surface-to-body weight ratio and smaller reserves of body fluids.
Despite water being freely available in schools, only half (51%) of children questioned said they drank it at school, with four in ten (40%) having to be told to drink water by their parents. More than a third (35.1%) do not drink water when thirsty and over 40% (42.4%) don’t drink water whilst playing sport or exercising.
Stefan Gates has teamed up with the campaign to suggest fun ways parents and teachers can educate children about healthy hydration and to make water their drink of choice.
Stefan’s top tips for parents include:
Make water more fun
1. Help your children to decorate their own personalised water bottle. Make them as cheeky as possible so they feel ownership over their own drinking habits.
2. Ask your child to count how many bottles or cups of water your family drink each day. They’ll be surprised at how the numbers rack up and it can turn something mundane into a fun game.
3 Fun ice cubes can make a drink of water into an adventure. Fill an ice tray with slices of strawberries, grapes, blueberries or raspberry before putting it in the freezer. Add to beakers of water when desired.
4.Try this experiment: cut up an apple and weigh the slices, then leave them out on a plate uncovered for a week. Each day, weigh the apple slices and record the weight. Ask your children to think about why it loses weight as it dries up and they’ll soon start thinking about the importance of water.
5. Demonstrate how a wilting plant, such as a basil plant, will perk up fairly rapidly once it has water to rehydrate its cells.
Help with habit forming
6. We know that children copy their parents’ behaviour, so make sure you get into the habit of drinking water in front of your children.
7. Repeated tastings of water may help kids to develop a taste for it. To make it more fun you could add ice, a slice of lemon or a curly straw.
Stefan said, “Water is essential for life, but it’s clear from this research that most kids don't know or care about the right amount they need to be healthy and happy. And let's be honest: telling kids 'you'll be healthier if you drink more water' is doomed to failure, just like all adult finger-wagging.
“My job is to take boring, complicated but vital ideas like hydration and make them fascinating and inspiring for everyone age seven to 70. That’s why I’m dead excited about this campaign, and about teaching the nation’s kids some amazing things about the wacky world of water.”
Wise up with Water campaign materials is available to all primary school teachers and families across the UK. It includes curriculum-based lesson plans designed to creatively educate children on the role of water in the body and healthy hydration. Schools will also be able to win a ‘Wacky Water Challenge’ with Stefan Gates.
Children’s Food Trust Head of Nutrition Dr Patricia Mucavele said: “Sugary drinks can contribute to tooth decay and weight gain and provide little nutritional value. Tooth decay and obesity are ever growing threats to our children’s health and helping them to develop good habits from a young age is essential to their future wellbeing. So we’re working with the Natural Hydration Council to highlight the benefits of drinking water.
“We’d like to see water much more available in schools and in public places ensuring children and adults alike having an easily accessible, healthy alternative to buying sugary drinks.”
Kinvara Carey, Natural Hydration Council said: “Encouraging healthy hydration habits and general awareness of basic nutrition from a young age is important. We hope through engaging with children in this way, they will be encouraged to consider their food and drink choices, and drink water, whether at school, at home or when they are on the move and continue to do so as teenagers and adults”.
For more information on the Wise up with Water campaign, please visit www.childrensfoodtrust.org.uk/schools/wise-up-with-water