New York City public elementary and middle schools recently undertook a study to assess the impact of installing water jets (electrically cooled, large clear jugs with a push lever for fast dispensing) on student health outcomes, and the results were quite encouraging.
The study found statistically significant decreases in student BMI measures and in the rates of students who were overweight. There was also a 12.3 decrease in the number of all types of milk half-pints purchased per student per year, primarily chocolate milk.
The study was led by Brian Elbel, as associate professor of population health and health policy at New York University School of Medicine and his colleagues. Elbel believes that that the water jets were successful because they were placed in easily accessible areas of the school, and cups were provided with the machines, making it easier for students to consume the water.
It’s worth noting that the study looked at whether a school had purchased a water jet machine; it did not track how much students used them. However, in previous studies conducted by Elbel, he noted that such machines led to a threefold increase in water consumption.
Placing water coolers in schools, along with promoting daily exercise and proper nutrition, seems like an effective, low-cost cost approach to improving the health habits of children.
Who knew that something that has been a staple of the corporate work environment could have such a positive effect in academia. Perhaps we’ll soon be hearing stories about students hanging around the school water cooler.
And I’m sure their conversations will be as mature as the ones that take place in the business world.