The Thirsty? Choose Water! research program is the first of its kind in Australia and was developed and led by the Central Coast Local Health District (CCLHD) from NSW Health.

The research saw the CCLHD work in partnership with five NSW local health districts and 85 schools adopting a whole-school approach to promote water as the drink of choice.

This involved activities in the classroom, installation of chilled water stations on site and promotions both within the school and to the wider community, including parents/carers.

These strategies were found to increase water consumption amongst students and encourage replacement of sugary beverages.

Thirsty? Choose Water! was initially funded by NSW Health’s Translational Research Grants Scheme (TRGS) to work with schools across three health districts – the Central Coast, Illawarra Shoalhaven and South West Sydney. Following completion of research in these areas, the program was extended to work with schools within a further two NSW health districts – Mid North Coast and Hunter New England. This second phase of research was supported by the Australian Government’s Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) as part of its Rapid Applied Research Translation Program.

What's next?

We hope to build on this research by sharing the Thirsty? Choose Water! resources with NSW schools, teachers, students, parents and carers to highlight the benefits of choosing water over sugary drinks.

This campaign is also designed to assist schools, parents and students to fundraise for the installation of chilled water stations in their school.

Our early research tells us that putting chilled water stations in schools works when it comes to encouraging adolescents to choose water over sugary beverages.

This is vital given nearly a quarter (24.9%) of children in Australia aged 5–17 years old are above a healthy weight range, with consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages being a contributing factor towards this.

Further, in 2017 the NSW Chief Health Officer published a report stating....

Nearly half (45.4%) of children aged 5–15 years regularly drink sweetened drinks.

Children aged 12–15 years are more likely to drink sweetened drinks regularly (60.3%) compared with children aged 5–11 years (36.4%).

Boys (53.2%) are more likely than girls (36.9%) to drink sweetened drinks regularly.

Read the full report here.

To create positive changes, Thirsty? Choose Water! uses evidence-based strategies involving curriculum activities, supportive school environments and engages the whole-school community to encourage students to choose water.

To find out more about the research, visit the following:

All Thirsty? Choose Water! content and materials are designed to provide general information only and are not intended as medical advice. For individually-tailored advice, consult your doctor or health professional.