“Would you like a drink with that?” -a frequent question when ordering food. You look at your child and they ask for a soft drink or juice. Do they ever ask for water or milk? If not, it’s time for a change!
The human body is 60-70% water. Water helps to digest food, regulate body temperature, lubricate organs and joints, transport nutrients, and eliminate waste from the body and much more. Children are less heat tolerant and more susceptible to dehydration, especially when physically active and in hot climates. Encouraging children to drink regularly is vital as they can get so involved in what they are doing that they forget to drink enough.
Fruit and vegetable juices contain much more sugar and calories and much less fiber compared to whole fruit. Calories in drinks contribute to our daily energy intake in the same way as food. Drinking too many calories overtime causes weight gain, whereas water is a calorie & sugar-free way to keep hydrated. Children do not need juice of any kind to have a balanced and healthy diet.
Encouraging water & discouraging sugary drinks is important because:
- Sugary drinks contribute to the obesity epidemic
- Children who are obese have a higher risk of chronic disease and premature death as adults
- Unhealthy weights can influence self-esteem and mental health in children and youth
- Sugar is linked to poor oral health, leading to tooth decay & damage to tooth enamel; most tap water is fluoridated which means that it helps teeth stay strong and protects against cavities
- Exposes them to the ‘habit’ of drinking water instead of sweet drinks
Patterns of drinking behavior appear to be established early in childhood, so it is important that young children get used to drinking water in order to maintain hydration and establish good habits early on.
The Healthy Kids Community Challenge (HKCC), an initiative by the Province of Ontario, unites communities with a common goal: promoting children’s health through physical activity and healthy eating. Humber-Downsview is one of 45 communities across Ontario taking part in the HKCC. The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care has launched a new theme for HKCC titled ‘Water Does Wonders’. This campaign encourages kids and families to reach for water when thirsty in an initiative to help kids make healthy choices.
Dr. Eric Hoskins, Minister of Health, states, “I am excited to move forward with the second theme of Ontario’s HKCC, encouraging kids and their families to drink water instead of sugary drinks. Helping kids and their families to make healthy choices in their everyday lives is an important part of our plan to help Ontarians lead happier, healthier lives.” Myriam Castilla, HKCC Manager at Humber-Downsview Region says, “We all know healthy eating is important for growing children. So is healthy hydration.”
Tips to promote healthy behaviors early & keep children hydrated:
- When your child asks for a drink, offer water and/or milk first
- Pack a water bottle for children heading off to school/outings/other activities
- If your child is already used to sweet drinks, start to reduce their intake by offering water diluted drinks and then move on to water and/or adding slices of fruits or vegetables (cucumber, lemon, lime, orange, mint) for natural flavor
- Encourage your child to eat fresh fruit and vegetables instead of drinking juice and other sugar drinks
- Be a role model by not keeping sweet drinks in the house or consuming sweet drinks yourself
- Remember: Young children only eat or drink what is given to them!
For more information about partnerships and to invite Water Does Wonders to your next event, contact Myriam Castilla via:
Office: (416) 249-8000 ext. 2256