Scottish teenagers’ hydration habits revealed

Less than half of teenagers in Scotland are actively choosing to drink water during the school day according to new research¹ from the Natural Hydration Council, which would suggest that current guidance on healthy diet and lifestyle is having a limited impact on behaviour change in 13-16 year olds.

The survey of 2,000 UK teenagers aged 13-16 years old revealed that Scottish teenagers are the most likely to turn to sugar sweetened carbonated drinks, 20% versus 15% in the rest of the UK, and twice as likely to choose energy drinks than young people in other areas of the UK (10% versus 5%).

Worryingly the results show that over half don’t usually have any type of drink after doing sport or exercise, and a fifth of teenagers don’t have a drink at all during break time.

A quarter of teenagers in Scotland buy drinks from corner shops or convenience stores, more than anywhere else is the UK, and this rose to 32% of teenagers living in Glasgow.

The findings also point to a particular issue with energy drinks in Glasgow, with 15% of young people choosing energy drinks compared to 6% in Edinburgh. A fifth of Glaswegian teens said they chose their preferred school day drink because it makes them feel more awake or gives them more energy, more than any of their peers across the UK.

Latest figures² show that a third of children in Scotland aged 12-15 are overweight or obese, with prevalence expected to rise further, particularly in line with deprivation. A NHC spokesperson commented, “We welcome the guidance outlined in the Schools (Health Promotion and Nutrition) (Scotland) Act and we would urge all schools to make sure they are not just providing water, but also actively encouraging it as a positive drink choice.”

“Water is the healthiest way to hydrate, and can have benefits for concentration and energy levels, yet half of teenagers don’t know this. More needs to be done, particularly around education, to encourage real behaviour change.”

Dr Emma Derbyshire, Advisor to the Natural Hydration Council and Public Health Nutritionist added, “We must encourage healthy drinking habits alongside healthy eating in order to have a real impact. Parents can play a big role here, something as small as sending their teenagers off with a bottle of water in the morning sets the right tone for the rest of the day and removes the need to buy a drink on the way to school.”

“We also know that a lack of easy access to water is preventing half of teenagers from drinking more during school time, so we need to make sure that they can refill from a water fountain throughout the day or have easy access to bottled water in school canteens and vending machines”.

Notes to editors
1. Research was conducted by Censuswide with 2,000 13-16 year olds who aren’t homeschooled. Regional data for the England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland is available on request
2. The Scottish Health Survey 2015