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Latest news on drinking water
Latest news on drinking water
National Governors Council Joins Alliance – We are delighted that the National Governors Council (NGC) has joined the Water for Health Alliance. There are 350,000 school governors in England – almost as many governors as there are teachers – with more than 200,000 represented by NGC. Governing bodies have a key strategic leadership role in schools. Since the introduction of Local Management of Schools, governing bodies have been given a wide range of duties and responsibilities. These include setting staffing levels, appointing head teachers, setting and agreeing the school budget, ensuring that a broad and balanced curriculum is delivered, as well as monitoring health and safety and the management of premises. Governing bodies also have a statutory responsibility to represent parents and the wider community. Governing bodies are required to have a range of policies in place, including a policy for nutritional standards for school meals. NGC advises that “It is important that as part of a healthy school strategy, school governors consider how to promote water consumption. Drinking water should be available to all pupils, every day, free of charge”.
Soft drinks and school vending – “And because children need healthy options throughout the school day, I can announce that from next September no school will be able to have vending machines selling crisps, chocolates or sugary drinks”. These were the words of the Education Secretary Ruth Kelly in her speech to the Labour Party conference. “Great news for the Alliance and its supporters, who have been calling for fresh water to be available to children throughout the school day, free of charge.” This now looks far more likely to become the case. On BBC Radio Five Live, Alliance member Joe Harvey of the Health Education Trust reminded the audience that “[Schools are] not there to make a profit for the confectionary and soft drink industry. They’re there to care for children”. With free fresh water now demanded in guidance by the Secretary of State and unhealthy soft drinks vending banned, it should be a simple and cost free process to make appropriate water facilities and clean toilets part of the Ofsted inspection process.
School Commissioners – Water UK met with the Office of the Children’s Commissioner for Wales to discuss the work of the Water for Health Alliance, and to encourage joint initiatives to improve water provision in schools. The Swansea based team has endorsed free water provision heavily in the past and were supportive of the aims of the Alliance. Welsh schools in poorer areas have already received direct support from both the Welsh Assembly and Dwr Cymru through water cooler provision and education programmes. Meanwhile, Children’s Commissioner for England Professor Al Aynsley-Green has written to Water UK regarding the Alliance to advise that “I welcome your work on developing drinking water policy and provision in schools, care homes, hospitals and prisons and wish you every success in developing it further”.
Concentrate – Education Design – The bottle cooler penholder is a new way of children remembering to drink water. “Experts with beards” suggests that the bottle cooler penholder prompts you to have a bottle of water in front of you at your desk. It is made from thermally insulating neoprene and is a wet-suit style jacket for bottles that will keep water cool, as well as store pens and pencils needed during the day. It is stretchy enough to fit over all standard 500 ml water bottles. Available in five colours, it has apparently never been easier to be healthy and clever!! www.concentrate.org.uk/
How big is your brain today? The Department of Neurology at the University of Munster has found that dehydration confounds the assessment of brain atrophy. Computerised brain volumetry has potential value for diagnosis and the follow-up evaluation of degenerative disorders. A potential pitfall of this method is the extent of physiological variations in brain volume. The authors show that dehydration and rehydration can significantly change brain volume: lack of fluid intake for 16 hours decreased brain volume by 0.55 per cent (SD ±0.69) and after rehydration, total cerebral volume increased by 0.72 per cent (SD ±0.21). Source – Neurology, Vol. 64 No. 3, pp. 548–50, 8 February 2005. Duning, T., Kloska, S., Steinstrater, O., Kugel, H., Heindel, W. and Knecht, S.
Alliance can secure free tap water in train stations and airports – The British Airports Authority and Network Rail have responded to calls from members of the Water for Health Alliance to improve access to tap water in airports, underground and over ground stations. DWI Chief Inspector, Jeni Colbourne, had said that many stations and airports offered only drinking water via taps in public toilets. She said that buying bottled water was not the solution for all travellers, water coolers plumbed into the mains should be on offer. “It is not right that everybody should have to buy bottled water. It is not the answer for everybody because it is expensive”. A spokesman for Network Rail, which manages 17 stations across England, Scotland and Wales, seemed to miss the point made by the DWI and confirmed that “Drinking water is available at the toilets in all Network Rail managed stations”. However, a spokesman for airport operator BAA said that drinking fountains offering free water were already installed at Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted and Southampton airports, and Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen are in the process of having water fountains fitted. Can you tell us if they are fit to drink from and if BAA is correct? Are they clean and installed in suitable areas for everyone to use? Your travel experience feedback would be valued as we continue to work on improving public access to water.
Water for older people in care – Water UK presented a paper on the important role of tap water in EU nutritional care at the “Nutri-Senex Workshop on improving the quality of life for older people by co-ordinating research into malnutrition of the elderly” (22 September 2005). Nutri-Senex (Nutrition and Senses) is a co-ordinated action funded by the European Commission under the food quality and safety theme. The primary aim of the project is to contribute towards the improvement of the quality of life of older people and it will also aim to improve the understanding of how diet can promote healthy ageing.
Workfit – BT is to launch the UK’s biggest workplace health programme after it emerged that one employee dies every two weeks from a heart-related illness. The workfit campaign aims to get BT’s 100,000-plus employees thinking about health and fitness, give advice on avoiding heart problems and promote healthier lifestyles. The move reflects a growing trend among UK employers, which are beginning to recognise that a healthier workforce leads to improved productivity and lower sickness absence.
97 reasons to drink water – Tap water is being bottled by a water company in the north-east of England to help promote its health benefits. Northumbrian Water has given the bottles free to a variety of outlets throughout the region and the 500 ml bottles have proved so popular that another bottling order has been placed. The product is described as “still table water” and is branded under the label of “97”. http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/em/fr/-/1/hi/england/4181540.stm=20
ECCA asks for water in care homes – Alliance members, the English Community Care Association (ECCA), the largest representative body for community care in England, has been working with Water UK focusing on the link between drinking water and healthy ageing. Martin Green, Chief Executive of ECCA, says: “Drinking water makes good economic sense for care homes on tight budgets. By helping to take away some of the more common ailments, it improves well-being and can reduce the volume of medicines required”. Medical evidence for good hydration in older people shows that it can assist in preventing pressure ulcers, constipation, urinary infections and incontinence, kidney stones and gallstones, heart disease, low blood pressure, cognitive impairment, falls, poor oral health and skin conditions, and helps in the management of diabetes. ECCA is working to ensure that its members are aware of the health benefits of drinking water and healthy ageing. Fresh water from the tap needs to be made freely available and physically accessible throughout the day and night.
Best practice hydration toolkit for older people in care – the Water UK led toolkit designed for the care industry by the care industry is nearing completion. The pack of useful and practical fact sheets and the supporting evidence based website will bring care providers the information they need to assess their current practice, learn new techniques for encouraging water provision, gain awareness of the health and economic benefits of providing water and audit their progress after using the kit.
Drink up! A clever water gadget for the less able – totally hands free in use, this idea allows the user to control the amount of fluid required via a special mouthpiece, using a combination of bite (with teeth or gums), suction and swallowing actions. Interestingly, it is capable of use with the standard NHS drinks jug. The Drink-up concept came about in 1997, when the innovator’s Grandmother, tripped over resulting in hospitalisation with two broken arms. Drinkup: www.thedrinkup.com
Malnutrition and dehydration in older people – According to the Health Care Financing Administration, dehydration was ranked as one of the ten most frequent admitting diagnoses in a study on Medicare hospitalisations. Increasing age is one of the major risk factors for dehydration. In fact, those persons between the ages of 85 and 99 years are six times more likely to be hospitalised for dehydration. www.nursinghomeabuseresourcecenter.com/injured/malnutrition/
Older people are at greatest risk for dehydration – and its potentially life-threatening consequences according to an Extract from the “Prevention and Management of Dehydration” by Jeannete Y. Wick, RPh, MBA, American Society of Consultant Pharmacists. Elders aged 85–99 are six times more likely to be hospitalised for dehydration than those aged 65–69. More than 18 per cent of those hospitalised for dehydration will die within 30 days, and associated mortality increases with age. Men appear to dehydrate more often than women. The incidence of dehydration is probably underestimated quite seriously because dehydration is often masked by other conditions. Once dehydration becomes a problem, the entire health care team must be involved in its resolution and specific dehydration management strategies must be included on the resident’s care plan. The simplest and most effective strategy is to ensure that all residents consume adequate volumes of fluid. www.ascp.com/public/pubs/tcp/1999/aug/prevention.shtml
European Health and Consumer Programme – Many thanks to the European Public Health Alliance for information that the European Commission has released the plans for its proposed new joint Health and Consumer protection programme (January 2007–December 2013). The Commission argues for a joint approach on health and consumer protection because these policy areas share similar objectives and types of activities. They believe that a combined programme would also create economies of scale and reduce the administrative burden on the Commission staff. The implementation of the programme would be through the Executive Agency (established early 2005) and run by the Public Health Programme. A new consumer institute would be added to the Agency. The health part of the programme would have five key objectives, all of which direct have potential to directly relate to the aims of the Water for Health Alliance. They are to protect citizens against health threats, to promote policies that lead to a healthier way of life, to contribute to reducing the incidence of major diseases in the EU, to contribute to the development of more effective and efficient health systems, and to support the objectives above by providing health information and analysis. http://europa.eu.int/comm/health/ph_overview/pgm2007_2013_en.htm
World Health Organization promotes water as a nutrient – In its Water, Sanitation and Health guidance, the WHO advises that “Water is a basic nutrient of the human body and is critical to human life. The human body requires a minimum intake of water in order to be able to sustain life before mild and then severe dehydration occurs. Adverse health effects have been noted from both mild and severe dehydration and the latter can be fatal”.
Soft drinks shares suffer again, bottled water not the answer – The FT reported on the soft drink market in its fourth in a series of city perspectives on non-financial risks to investors. It comments that “Drinks companies are on the defensive” and advises that the biggest US soft drink producers last month agreed to restrict sales of their products in schools. The article reports that the widespread move to buy into health drinks – like water – have led to bottled water being one of the fastest growing sectors of the industry “but already a backlash has started against the idea of transporting bottles of water, with all the CO2 emissions that involves, when essentially the same product is available out of a tap at up to 1/10,000th of the price”.
Experts on hydration explode myths – then don’t! – The soft drinks industry is fighting back from the global view of its products by again launching the expert panel of doctors in its trade magazine to promote sales of soft drinks. In the September edition of Soft Drinks World magazine, an article entitled “Experts on hydration – myriad myths dispelled” advises that there are many public and media myths around hydration, such as “the main purpose of fluid is to flush the body of toxins and caffeinated drinks are dehydrating”. Interestingly when the “experts” themselves are then quoted, they say nothing to support this statement and fully endorse all the important and established hydration messages of the years of Water for Health work.