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Surveys by the Health Promotion Board show an unhealthy proportion of Singapore children and teenagers consume sugary drinks frequently.

Singapore, 30 August 2012: The latest Students' Heath Survey in 2009 by the Health Promotion Board (HPB) revealed that 43 per cent of students in secondary schools, junior colleges and the centralised institute consumed sugary drinks daily.

2. The habit seems to be cultivated when they were younger, with another HPB survey conducted among parents and caregivers between 2008 and 2009 showing that 28 per cent provided sugary drinks more than once a week to their children between four and nine years old. This percentage increases to 34 per cent for children aged 10 years and above.

3. Research shows that the consumption of sugary drinks is associated with poor dietary choices and obesity in children – and these health issues follow them to adulthood. Limiting consumption of sugary drinks among local children and teenagers therefore has a substantial impact on Singapore‟s public health in the long run.

4. To urge school-going children and youths to replace sugary drinks with water, as well as drink enough to stay healthy and hydrated, HPB is launching Singapore's first Let's Drink Water Campaign. During the campaign, HPB will be working with pre-schools, primary schools, secondary schools and Post-secondary Education Institutions (PSEIs) to raise awareness of the importance of water consumption and encourage students to replace sugary drinks with water.

5. As part of the Let's Drink Water Campaign, HPB has helped pre-schools develop a lesson plan for teachers to encourage water drinking among children. In addition, under HPB's CHampioning Efforts Resulting in Improved School Health (CHERISH) framework, primary schools, secondary schools, junior colleges and the centralised institute are encouraged to make water coolers available around their premises.

6. Some new initiatives in pre-schools to educate students on the importance of reducing the intake of sugary beverages and drinking water instead include:
  • Revising the criteria for certifying pre-schools as CHERISH Junior pre-schools to include the provision of adequate water breaks throughout the day, the provision of water as part of every balanced and healthy meal served at the school, and an enhanced curriculum to teach students the benefits of drinking water over sugary drinks
  • Training pre-school Health Ambassadors to encourage their peers to drink water instead of sugary drinks as well as lead the class in singing the 'Sip to be Cool' water jingle
  • Providing stickers for children‟s water bottles and posters around the school to encourage drinking water
7. Meanwhile, HPB is working with primary schools, secondary schools, junior colleges such as Wellington Primary School and Canberra Secondary School to encourage schools to initiate water breaks after lessons as well as put up posters to remind students to quench their thirst with water instead of sugary drinks. Stickers at places selling beverages will also be introduced at polytechnics and universities to drive home the point.

8. Beyond the school setting, HPB is also introducing a set of guidelines to help parents ensure their children drink enough water even as they cut down on sugary beverages. For instance, children between three and six years old are recommended to drink three to five glasses of water daily.

9. Said Associate Professor Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim, Parliamentary Secretary for Health and Transport: “One regular can of sugary drink contains about seven teaspoons of sugar. In contrast, water has zero calories. As lifelong dietary habits are formed at an early age, we need to pay more attention to what our children and teenagers are consuming when they are still young. HPB's Let's Drink Water Campaign goes back to the basics – drink water because it‟s good for our health.”

10. Said Mr Ang Hak Seng, Chief Executive Officer, HPB: “Our surveys show that nearly half of local teenagers drink sugary drinks daily – possibly because sugary drinks have been a constant part of their diet as children. HPB aims to help children learn to do without a 'sugar fix' as early as possible, and is working with pre-schools to include, as part of the criteria to be a CHERISH Junior pre-school, enough water breaks throughout the day, water as part of every balanced and healthy 'bento set' meal served at the pre-school, as well as lesson plans to teach children the benefits of drinking water over sugar-sweetened beverages.”

11. By 2015, HPB aims to have 500 pre-schools certified as CHERISH Junior pre-schools, where children will have regular water breaks, have water with every meal, and be taught the benefits of water over sugary drinks.

Issued by Health Promotion Board