Belgian schools trial DRINK program to swap soft drink for water


A program referred to as ‘Decreasing consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks and Raising faucet water consumption by means of Interventions based mostly on Nutrition and sustainability for Okids’ (DRINK) goals to encourage Belgian schoolchildren to undertake more healthy habits. The research protocol is printed in BioMed Central’s journal Trials.

Research Protocol: Decreasing consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages and Raising tap water consumption through Interventions based on Nutrition and sustainability for Kids: study protocol of the “DRINK” cluster randomised controlled trial. Picture Credit score: urbans / Shutterstock


Well being specialists and policymakers have been involved about kids consuming sugary drinks and different sweetened drinks (SB) for many years. They’re additionally not ingesting sufficient water. Consuming SB as a substitute of water may cause weight achieve, weight problems, and tooth decay. Dehydration can be a major problem. Belgium is among the many high 5 shoppers of SB in European nations, making it a public well being difficulty.

Faculties are a superb place for college students to study more healthy habits that encourage them to scale back SB consumption and improve their water consumption. Nonetheless, many colleges have merchandising machines that inventory SB or do not need functioning water faucets. Mother and father might also ship their kids to high school with SB.

“Cautious analysis of well being promotion at college is essential. Certainly, college is recognized as an fascinating health-related intervention setting, however the effectivity of well being promotion at college has not been sufficiently evaluated to this point.”

To handle this difficulty, researchers of the current research determined to contain dad and mom and colleges within the DRINK program. Changing SB with faucet water has a number of advantages. It’s more healthy for the youngsters and cheaper for his or her dad and mom. Utilizing faucet water can even generate much less waste.

In regards to the research

The DRINK program has been carried out as a cluster randomized managed trial (cRCT) in 168 colleges in Belgium. The faculties had been randomized to one among 4 therapies: (1) no remedy (management), (2) sustainability-based interventions centered on the environmental affect of water waste and bottled water, (3) nutrition-based interventions centered on the well being advantages of water and the hurt brought on by sugar, and (4) each kinds of interventions. All the scholars in a college obtained the identical remedy.

Informative paperwork (leaflets and posters) had been distributed to varsities, college students, and fogeys. DRINK additionally instituted water breaks and dialogue conferences in colleges in teams (2)-(4). This system offered reusable bottles and glasses solely to college students who wanted them. Researchers requested academics in management colleges to proceed their then-ongoing packages on sustainability and vitamin.

DRINK started implementation within the 2020-2021 college 12 months when the primary spherical of knowledge was collected. Initially of this system, the scholars had been 8-10 years previous (Grades 3-5). The research design required that college students be adopted up for 2 college years, and colleges with out college students in 3rd-Sixth grades and people having beneath 11 college students by grade weren’t chosen for the research for organizational causes. The members had been requested to fill out questionnaires marking their every day consumption of SB with stickers. These booklets had been designed to be simple for the youngsters to make use of and perceive.

Together with the scholar questionnaires, college workers had been interviewed in regards to the implementation of DRINK at their establishment and any inconveniences they confronted. Mother and father additionally offered data on their occupation, family eating regimen, residing circumstances, and sustainable behaviors by means of self-completed questionnaires.

There was an intermediate survey in 2021/2022; the ultimate spherical of surveys occurred in 2022/2023 when the scholars had been 10-12 years previous. The identical data was collected in every wave of knowledge assortment. The researchers hope to finish their evaluation and current findings by the top of 2024.

The research outcomes are common every day SB consumption (in mL) and the proportion of youngsters consuming SB every day. It should assess whether or not the DRINK program efficiently lowered SB consumption and elevated water consumption in Belgian schoolchildren. The researchers can even see whether or not nutrition-based or sustainability-based actions are simpler.

To look at the affect of nutrition-based interventions, college students from teams (1) and (3) can be in contrast with these in (2) and (4). Evaluating (2) and (3) with (1) and (4) will present the impact of the sustainability-based interventions. To see if the 2 interventions work together, researchers will examine teams (3) and (4) with (1) and (2). The evaluation will contemplate components such because the socio-economic standing of the kid’s college and household that might have an effect on program affect. The outcomes can even enable researchers to establish essentially the most cost-effective intervention.


DRINK is the primary research to systematically consider a school-based well being intervention over a protracted interval (2 years). This system has benefited from the steering of specialists in public well being, epidemiology, psychology, and economics. Suggestions was additionally taken from college directors. If efficient, this system might be carried out throughout the nation.

The researchers hope their work will enhance the supply of well being interventions by speaking their findings with varied well being promotion packages and different stakeholders in Belgium. They can even current their outcomes to the workers on the taking part colleges. The DRINK program is a promising try to instill wholesome behaviors at school college students and their households.

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