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Restaurants advised to give children tap water

Public health bosses say diners should be offered alternatives to sugary drinks

Mark Gould

Monday, 25 April 2016

Restaurants should offer tap water to families dining out, so children have an alternative to a sugary drink, say councils. The Local Government Association, (LGA) which represents more than 370 councils with responsibility for public health, says tap water needs to be made more freely available, rather than something you have to ask for.

It wants the Government to use its forthcoming childhood obesity strategy as an opportunity to encourage restaurateurs to take responsibility and offer parents and children the choice of tap water as an alternative drink. The LGA wants other councils to follow the lead of Brighton and Hove which has pledged to become a Sugar Smart City with the ambition of reducing people's sugar intake. As part of this initiative, cafes, restaurants and takeaways have agreed to make water more freely available.

Eight out of 10 people usually drink tap water at home, yet only a third do so when eating out at restaurants according to a new water attitudes survey by the Consumer Council for Water. The survey also found that 15 per cent of people who usually drink tap water at home, never think of asking for water in cafes or restaurants, while 13 per cent said it made them feel awkward.

The LGA has previously called for tap water to be made more freely available in schools, nurseries and children’s centres.

Cllr Izzi Seccombe, LGA Community Wellbeing spokeswoman, said: “We want restaurant owners to play their part in tackling childhood obesity by offering families tap water.

“While most restaurants will happily provide a glass of tap water on request, we’re saying it shouldn’t be something you have to ask for. Some people may be too embarrassed or find it awkward to ask for tap water. Others may simply forget it’s an option.

“Water brings important health benefits and keeps people hydrated. For children it’s an alternative to a sugary drink, while for adults it might dissuade them from ordering another alcoholic drink.”

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