American Heart Association Fights Childhood Obesity with Hydration Stations in Schools

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The link between obesity and heart disease is well documented and healthy habits can help prevent heart disease. The American Heart Association – Northwest Arkansas has partnered with local schools to provide kids with more of what they need to live healthier lives.

“We just want to make the healthy choice the easy choice,” shared American Heart Association of Arkansas Senior Community Impact Director Deven Daehn. 

Daehn is concerned because obesity rates for kids in Washington and Benton counties are 31 percent and 30 percent respectively.

“If you were to fill a school bus almost 500 times with students, that’d be about four miles of school buses lined up,” Daehn explained. “That would be the number of overweight and obese students that we have living, just in Northwest Arkansas.”

According to the American Heart Association cutting out sugary drinks and drinking more water can have a very positive impact. A hydration station at Elkins Elementary School offers fifth-graders Haley and Nate a simple and accessible way to live healthier, along with their fellow students.

 “If I go out in the hallway to do something, I actually most of the time I’ll see someone filling up their water bottle,” Haley offered.

“Since our bodies are made up of at least 70 percent water, an average child needs to have about 64 ounces of water per day,” Nate explained. 

Elkins School-Based Health Center Coordinator Shelly Hollingsworth, L.P.MN. shared how easy it is to tackle some of the most common health issues kids face.

“So many students come in to the nurse’s office with headaches, not feeling good, sometimes they have stomach aches,” Hollingsworth said. “Hydration is important because it keeps them healthy, makes them feel good, they’re more productive in the classroom, they’re more productive at home and they just feel better in general.”

On average most people only drink from a water fountain for a few seconds. But by filling up a water bottle, water is plentiful and available throughout the day.

Daehn says, “Research shows that there is a direct link between improper hydration and obesity,” Daehn shared. “So keeping kids hydrated is very important to maintaining a healthy weight.”

Elkins Elementary is one of four schools in Northwest Arkansas to make use of money from the 2018 Rethink Your Drink: Choose Water grant program to install hydration stations. Click here to learn more about how the American Heart Association is working for a healthier Arkansas.

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