Addressing Obesity in Nebraska’s Youth: Water Consumption in Schools

Rural Health
Small Towns
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By Jon M. Bailey for the Center for Rural Affairs with assistance from Jordan Rasmussen

Key findings

• Nebraska ranks in the top half of most obese states for high school students, and adults, and the challenges grow as the Nebraska population ages.

• The state of Nebraska is looking at a cost of nearly $487 million attributable to its 2017 childhood obesity rate for future health care costs and diminished productivity. Without seriously addressing the obesity rate and accompanying costs, this amount is likely to increase annually and compound upon itself.

• Due to the time young people spend there, schools are a natural location for proactive, cost-effective interventions to reduce obesity. Policy options to do so include more access to no-cost drinking water, education, promotion of water as a substitute for sugary beverages, and inclusion of water fountains and/or water bottle filling stations in new school buildings.