Survey: Drinking behavior, Water quality and Access to Water in the Partner Countries Schools

There is a worrying trend in overweight and obesity rates in European children and youth. According to estimates from the WHO’s Childhood Obesity Surveillance Initiative around one in three children in the EU aged 6-9 years old are overweight or obese. Though in some countries a significant decrease in the prevalence of overweight and obesity was recorded - e.g. in Italy and Slovenia. But in other countries, e.g. Bulgaria, rates are still increasing. Consumption of sugary soft drinks gain the risk of becoming overweight or obese. Promotion of drinking water instead – at least at school – are effective measures to reduce overweight.

The EU Action Plan on Childhood Obesity 2014-2020 states, that initiatives to provide children and young people with fresh drinking water in schools - to promote health and as a substitute for sugar-sweetened beverages - should be prioritised. Schools should be so called “protected environments”. Some of the partner countries therefore have strict regulations, beverage dispensers are completely banned from schools. Other countries yet have no restrictions regarding the sale of sugar-sweetened drinks at schools. But in nearly each country promotion of drinking water is recommended.

Most people living in the EU enjoy good access to high quality drinking water. Tap water is free in European schools. Drinking water in Europe is abstracted from different sources, main sources are groundwater and surface water. EU water policy focuses on protecting water resources. The EU Water Framework Directive (WFD) is designed to achieve good ecological status and enable sustainable use of water. The new Drinking Water Directive states that drinking water should become better throughout Europe, with stricter pollutant limits, and be available to all citizens.

The survey "Drinking Behavior, Water Quality and Access to Water in the Partner Countries Schools" describes health data (obesity, overweight, caries) and the situation of drinking behavior of children and adolescents in the project partner countries (Austria, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom). There is also an overview of quality of drinking water and the availability of clean water in kindergartens and schools.It also presents regulations and requirements for the availability of beverages (e.g. limitations of sugar or sweetener content, requirements for filling of vending machines) in schools.

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