Restaurants urged to supply tap water for children's health

Restaurants urged to supply tap water for children's health

Restaurants urged to supply tap water for children's health

The Local Government Association (LGA) has urged UK restaurants to provide tap water regularly to customers, helping families avoid the purchase of sugary drinks and preventing health issues such as child obesity and diabetes, according to a recent article in the International Business Times.

The LGA conducted a survey of 3,000 people, which discovered that just 15% of the respondents who drink tap water at home would request it in a restaurant, stating that they'd feel too awkward to ask. One fifth of those surveyed were not aware that licensed premises are legally obliged to provide free tap water in England, Wales and Scotland.

Izzi Seccombe, the LGA's community wellbeing spokeswoman commented: "Some people may be too embarrassed or find it awkward to ask for tap water. Others may simply forget it's an option... For children, it's an alternative to a sugary drink."

The call for readily available tap water comes on the back of the announcement of the sugar tax on sugary drinks. One in five children in England is classified obese by the age of 11.

Health professionals have also spoken out in favour of this recommendation. The British Dental Association's health and science committee chairman, Russ Ladwa, stated that "offering tap water is a simple way the restaurant industry can play its part in turning the tide on tooth decay and obesity."

Many restaurants have hit back at the LGA's demands, arguing that offering tap water is already commonplace in a large number of restaurant chains. BigHospitality reported statements from businesses including Jamie's Italian, Le Bistrot Pierre, and Koh Thai Tapas, saying that tap water is already freely given, or at least offered, to every table.

In general, it appears that when tap water is available diners will drink it. Research conducted by the NPD Group found that there was a 16.7% increase in tap water servings over the five year period between 2010-2015. This increase was most notable amongst full service restaurants. However, the research also found that soft drink consumption had risen over the same period, suggesting that tap water was not directly replacing soft drinks for guests.

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