On May 9, Virginia schools, healthcare providers, community centers, and more will host events as part of the annual Rev Your Bev Day. Since 2013, Rev Your Bev has hosted more than 1,800 events across the commonwealth to get Virginia’s children drinking water over sugar sweetened beverages.
As health advocates we know the importance of drinking fluoridated water, not only does it improve health outcomes by ensuring children are getting a healthy dose of fluoride to protect their teeth, but by creating the habit early we can ensure Virginia’s children see the health benefits throughout their lives.
We spoke with the team behind Rev Your Bev at the Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth about the upcoming annual event in May to learn about opportunities to promote drinking fluoridated water through programs like this.
The following Q&A has been lightly edited.
- What is Rev Your Bev and how can people get involved?
Rev Your Bev Day, May 9, 2019, is an annual statewide day of action to raise awareness about the health benefits gained by children and adults when they choose water instead of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs). Rev Your Bev Day is an opportunity for community partners across Virginia to host healthy beverage events to raise awareness about Water as a First Choice Beverage. Events can be small, like reading a book about water to children and serving fruit-infused water, or bigger, like inviting parents and community members to learn more about the importance of drinking water.
SSB consumption remains a key contributor to childhood overweight and obesity, while fluoridated water serves as a vital resource to a healthy lifestyle that protects against cavities and dental disease. Community partners, such as churches, schools, clubs and child care programs can promote fluoridated water among children and help make water a habit early by serving only healthy beverages and teaching children that “Water is first for thirst!”
People can get involved with Rev Your Bev by signing up at www.revyourbev.com/registration. The first 500 child care programs to sign up will receive a FREE Rev Your Bev classroom kit with handouts for parents, social media messages, and fun lessons about water to teach the children.
- Why is it important to make drinking fluoridated water a habit early?
As early as preschool, many young children are exceeding the AAP recommendation amount of added sugar, and studies find that many young children are also not drinking the recommended daily cups of water. In Virginia, nearly half of third graders have experienced tooth decay, making it the most prevalent chronic disease of childhood. When children drink sugar-sweetened beverages, like juice, over fluoridated water they’re putting their teeth at risk of early decay, and future dental disease. Along with the health benefits of removing sugar-sweetened beverages, fluoridated water helps to protect teeth by protecting the surface of the teeth. In fact, studies have shown that fluoridated water can prevent about 25% of cavities. Child Care educators and parents can take advantage of the early childhood years to encourage water drinking and avoid consuming sugar-sweetened drinks to build healthy beverage habits early, and ensure children are set up for a lifetime of good oral health.
- How can schools, parents, and caregivers help reinforce the importance of drinking fluoridated water and make it a lasting healthy habit with kids?
Creating a supportive environment for water consumption can have a significant impact on children’s development of healthy habits. Making sure that water is visible and easily accessible to children is one way to make the healthy choice the easy choice! It is helpful for educators and parents to intentionally remind children to have some water throughout the day and put this into practice themselves by drinking fluoridated water over sugar-sweetened beverages. Offering children fruit infused or carbonated choices might make water-drinking more appealing to children. Young children enjoy “doing it themselves,” so keeping a small child-sized water pitcher full of water within easy reach for children also increases water consumption.
We each have a role to play in improving health outcomes for children, and making the swap to fluoridated water is an opportunity for us all to improve oral health and overall health outcomes.
Learn more about Rev Your Bev Day, and register to host an event in your community on May 9 here.