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Study: Drinking Water Reduces Risk Of Childhood Obesity

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork)-- Offering water to young students may help reduce the risk of childhood obesity, according to a new study.

The latest research from the online issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association Pediatrics found that thousands of New York City School children lost weight and lowered their body mass index after self-serve water dispensers were placed in schools.

"We looked at over a million kids in just over 1,200 schools in grades K-8," Brian Elbel, study co-author and associate professor at NYU Langone Medical Center, told CBS2's Elise Finch. "They ended up being about four or five pounds lighter after the introduction of this intervention as compared to a kid in a school that didn't get a water jet."

Experts say the results could lead to a breakthrough in the battle against childhood obesity.

"These aren't overwhelmingly large numbers, but for childhood obesity right now, where we're looking for anything that might have an impact. These are really important results we think," Elbel added.

Doctors are paying close attention to the trend. Dr. Ron Feinstein, who specializes in pediatric weight management, told CBS2 that it's difficult to help children lose weight because cutting too many calories may impact their growth. He says that getting a handle on childhood obesity is critical.

"Children and adolescents that are overweight and obese are more likely to be overweight and obese as adults and have all the associated medical problems such as hypertension, diabetes heart disease," Feinstein said. "It is predicted that this generation coming up, if there are no changes made, will be the first generation in history that will not live as long as their parents."

Many in the community are supportive of the initiative and believe it may lead to healthier kids.

"As an aunt of a child who is going through that, it makes me feel great that they're trying to make a difference and it's working," Upper East Side Resident Laura Smith told CBS2.

Researchers say water is a low-cost, high-impact tool against childhood obesity and encourage more school administrators and parents to take note of the simple tactic.

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