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An exploration of factors that influence the regular consumption of water by Irish primary school children

Johnston Molloy, C., Gandy, J., Cunningham, C., Glennon Slattery, C.
Journal of human nutrition and dietetics 2008 v.21 no.5 pp. 512-515
child nutrition, elementary students, dehydration (animal physiology), drinking water, drinking, teachers, elementary schools, nutrition knowledge, health promotion, attitudes and opinions, Ireland
Inadequate hydration has been linked to many factors that may impact on children's education and health. Teachers play an important role in the education and behaviour of children. Previous research has demonstrated low water intake amongst children and negative teachers' attitudes to water in the classroom. The present study aimed to explore teachers' knowledge about water and the perceived barriers to allowing children access to water during lesson time. In-depth interviews were conducted with 12 teachers from primary schools in the Midlands of Ireland. Interviews were continued until there was saturation of the data. Thematic analysis of the data was conducted. Participants had a poor knowledge of hydration requirements and the associated health benefits and effect on concentration. Low water intake amongst teachers and pupils, and barriers such as disruption to class and increased need to urinate, were reported. Teachers identified the hydration effect on learning as the education message most likely to influence the decision to allow water in the classroom. The issues, opinions and perceived barriers raised by teachers as part of this qualitative research provide a basis for future health promotion around water.