Discrimination in Hydration: Transcript

CHARLY ARNOLT/CARUSO:Hello, everybody. Welcome to this inspirational new podcast series entitled This Is How We Planet, brought to you by Nestlé Waters and iHeart. I'm your host, Charlie Arnolt, also known as WWE personality, Charlie Caruso. So, the question, how do we planet? And why is it important? I’ll tell you why: because Earth is it. It is our only address. There is no other home we can just skip off to if this one doesn't quite work out. It deserves and needs the best from us, all of us, and the only real way to help protect, preserve, or change it for the better, is to do it together.

Now, each episode takes an in-depth look at the people, and the organizations, that make our planet a better place in ways big and small, in our communities, across our country and also around the world. We'll focus on areas such as disaster response, children and health, water stewardship, recycling and so much more.

We also recognize Planet Heroes in each of these areas whose work goes above and beyond. And the best part: you, our listeners, will even have the chance to nominate your own Planet Hero to possibly be featured on a future episode.

Today, we're taking an in-depth look at the important role that drinking water plays in a healthy lifestyle, especially where kids are concerned, and what we're calling discrimination in hydration. 

Did you know that 20 percent of children in the United States do not drink water on any given day? Why, you ask? Well, research shows that some kids just don't think it's cool to drink water, while others prefer sugary beverages because their sports heroes promote them. Many kids are simply unaware that not drinking enough water may impact their health. So, our guests today are going to explore these and other reasons why there is discrimination in hydration and let us know what we can do to make drinking water the cool choice for kids. So, what do you say, pour yourself a tall glass of cool water and let's get started! 

Our first guest is Leslie Boggs. She is the 56th president of the National PTA, which stands for the National Parent Teacher Association. As the nation's oldest and largest volunteer child advocacy association, National PTA’s mission is to make every child's potential a reality. 
Helping children to realize their potential has also been Leslie's personal mission throughout her more than 20 years in leadership positions at all levels of PTA. Leslie, welcome onto This Is How We Planet. 

LESLIE BOGGS: Thank you so much for inviting me to be a part of this important conversation. 

CHARLY ARNOLT/CARUSO: We are so very excited to have you. So, thank you. Our next guest is Dr. Janine Rethy. She is representing the American Academy of Pediatrics, where she is a member of its Council on Community Pediatrics in sections on obesity and breastfeeding. Janine is also Division Chief of Community Pediatrics at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital and Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at Georgetown University School of Medicine. She serves as the university's medical director for the kids’ mobile medical clinic, as well as its fitness program, which partners with schools and families to improve nutrition, physical activity and wellness. Hi Janine. Welcome to the podcast.

DR. JANINE RETHY: Thank you so much for having me, Charlie.

CHARLY ARNOLT/CARUSO:  All right. Now we get to our final guest. Please join me in welcoming Aaron Walton. Aaron is the CEO of the award-winning advertising agency Walton Isaacson, headquartered in both Chicago and Los Angeles. One of its specialties is cultural expertise across general market, Black, Hispanic and LGBT consumer segments. Hello Aaron. Welcome to This Is How We Planet. 

AARON WALTON: Hello Charlie. It's a pleasure to be here.

CHARLY ARNOLT/CARUSO: Absolutely. Well, I'm so excited to have all three of you here. I'd like to begin our discussion by asking you, Dr. Rethy, that when it comes to nutrition, why don't we address hydration?

DR. JANINE RETHY: You're right, Charlie. Historically, we have not included the topic of hydration into our discussions of nutrition with our children in our pediatric offices. And that is changing recently, as we have begun to understand the importance of hydration for kids in general, but more specifically, what kids are drinking that has an outsize effect on their health. So, first on hydration, in general. As a bit of background, water is the main constituent of our body. So, about 60 percent of our body weight is made of water. And that's even higher in children. And water has many purposes. So, I'll get a bit technical for a second. Water maintains our vascular volume and allows blood circulation, which is essential for the function of all organs and tissues of the body. Water transports nutrients to cells and removes waste from cells. Importantly, water regulates our body temperature. Finally, another example that I would like to describe is water acting as a lubricant and shock absorber. So, this is really important for protecting our joints as we run and play. So, really, all of our systems - our cardiovascular system, our respiratory system, digestive tract, reproductive system, kidney, liver - very importantly, the brain and the peripheral nervous systems - all depend on adequate hydration in order to function effectively.

CHARLY ARNOLT/CARUSO: So, literally, every single part of your body needs it. So, let's say you aren't getting enough water. What are some adverse effects on children specifically if they do not stay hydrated?

DR. JANINE RETHY: Just to give you a little bit of a sense, to stay well hydrated, on a given day about 70 to 80 percent of the water that we need is provided by beverages and the rest of it is from food. So that piece that's provided by beverages for young children, children ages one to three, they need about four cups total of beverages per day. So that would include water, milk or other beverages for adequate hydration. For four-to eight-year-olds, that increases a little bit to five cups per day. And then, for older children, about seven to eight cups. So, obviously this is a little bit variable by individual, and some kids need more than others. And it's also affected by their level of activity on a given day and environmental conditions like heat and humidity, but that's kind of a general guideline.

So, what we do know, though, is that for those younger kids, those four-to eight-year-olds, 75 percent of them are not meeting the daily required intake with DRI. And most of them are short by an average of about six ounces a day. And in the older children, that's even higher. So, 85 percent of the nine-to thirteen-year-old-kids are not meeting that daily required intake. And these children are short by an even larger volume. And so, what does that mean for children when they're behind on their fluids? So, we know that declines of even two percent of body water results in changes for the child - so compromised cognitive and physical performance. Overall, we see decreases in alertness, concentration, short-term memory and physical endurance. And, most importantly for the kids, their sports skills can decline too. And so, populations at risk for even mild hydration like this include the very young, so our kids that we’re taking care of, and the elderly, as well.

CHARLY ARNOLT/CARUSO: So, Leslie, being the fact that you're surrounded by students all the time, do you notice some of these students suffering from some of these effects from a lack of hydration that Dr. Rethy has just mentioned?

LESLIE BOGGS: You can actually tell whenever students are not engaged as much because they are becoming lethargic. So, it's very important that we pay close attention, that they are getting enough water to stay hydrated, especially even in a virtual world or staying in front of a computer. But they still need water so they can pay attention and be very much aware of what's happening on the computer. 

CHARLY ARNOLT/CARUSO: And what, in terms of sugary beverages, I mean, what are the effects that you can notice if you're seeing that a child is not only not drinking enough water, but they're consuming too many sugary beverages on the other hand

LESLIE BOGGS: Well, I can tell you from personal experience, I can see the difference with my children and grandchildren. Those that drink, that love the sugary beverages, can either become very hyperactive and don't want to sit still, or they become very sleepy and lethargic and want to go take a nap and not do their work. So, it's kind of a give and take. Right, Dr. Rethy? We see children and the way that they really address the water and the sugary beverage. It's not good because, as we've seen before, there's parents don't really realize how much sugar is a beverage. And that's why we, as PTA, really have those programs in schools where we really actually take cups of sugar and show them how much is in a bottle of a beverage. So, they know because everyone knows a visual really helps them understand it better. 

DR. JANINE RETHY: Yeah, that's absolutely true, Leslie. I think the way you described it, how you're seeing the kids on the front lines and how sugar affects their ability to concentrate at school. What we see with free sugars that kids are consuming, is that their blood sugar levels rise very rapidly. And then we can see a little bit of this hyperactivity and so on, and agitation. 

LESLIE BOGGS: Well, the other thing that’s in sugary beverage, too, is caffeine. And so that really affects children differently. For some children, it will get them aware and get them more engaged. But for other children, as my grandson, he became so hyperactive, you could not control him. So, you have to be very much aware as a parent how those beverages affect your children.

CHARLY ARNOLT/CARUSO: I used to be a big consumer of soft drinks. And then there was one time, I remember this so clearly, because now every time I drink a soft drink, it sticks into my mind. There was a soft drink and they showed you once the liquid dried up and just the sugar remained in the can, how much there was. And I was blown away.

DR. JANINE RETHY: So, if you look at a 12-ounce can of soda, you have about 40 grams of sugar in just that one 12-ounce can. And, in fact, that's very similar to what you'll find in apple juice or sweet tea - about that. So, the current recommended guidelines for added sugar in a day is 25 grams of sugar total per day. So, just one can of a beverage is exceeding that by quite a bit. And so, that 25 grams will equal somewhere around six percent of the total daily energy of a diet for optimal health. And, at the moment, Americans have about double that. So, 13 to 16 percent of our diets at the moment are from added sugars. So, I think it's quite a clean public health message that if we cut out those sugary beverages as a form of liquid that the children are needing every day, we can really dramatically cut back on these excess sugars that are contributing to poor health in our society. 

CHARLY ARNOLT/CARUSO: Yeah. Obesity, as well. I know as an adult, I'm much more conscious about my diet. And when I was a kid, I could just eat whatever and everything was all good. But obviously, as you get older, you start to notice the more you consume, the bigger you get. It’s just unfortunate how the world works. But something that I try to do is, I try not to consume my calories through beverages. I like to eat my calories. And I know that a lot of these sugary drinks add a bunch of calories. So, I do try to avoid them.

So, obviously we're discussing all of the benefits that come with drinking water and all of the disadvantages that come with drinking sugary drinks. But Aaron, research does show that teens, especially minority teens, don't see themselves in water. Can you tell me why this is?

AARON WALTON: I think there are a couple of reasons. I don't think there's just one reason. I think water distrust is a big, big reason. You know, tap water, which includes water fountains in public schools, are committed problematic, particularly for Black and Latino homes, which is why these communities are actually more likely to use bottled water than tap water. Because bottled water competes with other bottled beverages, everything from fruit juices to soda, to sport drinks, it generally loses out to sugary drinks, which are perceived as being more fun, more fulfilling, more caloric and even more energy-producing. And for kids, a lot of kids, while they may be sent to school with water, oftentimes they can't bring the water into classrooms. And so, if they can't bring it into the classrooms, they don't have those opportunities to drink. So that's one issue. The other issue, I think, is that advertising for sugary drinks in 2018 exceeded a billion dollars. Companies are really focused on gaining that share. And Black and Hispanic youth are primary targets for those ads.

Black kids drink at least 37.6 percent of their intake is water, versus white kids, which is 46 percent. And that's from the ages of two to 19. So, there are all types of things that impact why these consumers, particularly Black and Latino consumers, are consuming more sugary drinks. The other part is that, from a marketing standpoint, these are the growth segments. This is where the consumers are growing. And so, as an advertiser, you're trying to get to the consumers that are going to help sell more of your products, and they have understood the power that influencers have in helping to talk about their brands. And so, I think it's a combination of a lot of different things. I would also say that advertisers have gotten, as a science is becoming more available, and as we start to understand the impact of what these beverages can do, people are starting to understand the importance of balance. And so I think it's a combination of parents, kids, teachers, everyone coming together and making sure that we understand the role that hydration can play, the importance that it means to helping us become better, healthier people and the importance of balance. And that's suggesting that's sugary drinks are going to go away, but we have to put it in context.

CHARLY ARNOLT/CARUSO: And I will say, I don't necessarily see too many influencers at this point marketing water. You see a little bit more promoting a healthy lifestyle but as far as water marketing goes, is any of that happening yet? 

AARON WALTON: It’s really interesting. I've seen it at food and wine festivals where it's being marketed to an older demo. I don't see it as aggressively with some of the younger targets. And I think that's going to change. I think that more and more people, more and more executives, advertisers are understanding not only the positive impact that it can have, but their responsibility to make sure that as they're marketing some of the sugary drinks, they're also doing the same with some of the more healthy choices that they have in their portfolio. And as the demand for that continues to grow, you're going to see more and more folks kind of jumping into that arena. And when you think about those lifestyle opportunities, when you think about those consumers who want to be on the cutting edge of what's new and what's hip and what's cool, water could be that answer. And celebrities bring a certain level of authenticity and credibility, particularly sports athletes who need the water to perform at the level that they're performing at. We need to tell those stories. We need, as advertisers, as communities, to be able to make sure that they get as much exposure as the lifestyle brands.

CHARLY ARNOLT/CARUSO: And it's funny, because when you're watching a game on TV, let's say, a lot of these teams or organizations have partnerships with certain brands, whether it be a sports drink or otherwise. So, you always see them drinking that drink because it's very strategic. They know what they're doing. They're promoting the brand that they're partnered with. But water is what's filled up in those big coolers and what they're drinking during their timeouts. And you just don't see them really bringing attention to that. So, I think that will be very critical. And I think once kids are like, Ooh, Ooh, they're drinking cold water.

AARON WALTON: It is about early education. And by the way, I think what advertisers are doing, and the smart ones will do, is start to get to those consumers, those younger consumers, earlier. Because what we know is that if we can get to them early, and this is across any category, not just the beverage category, this goes across most industries. If we get to them early, what happens is they develop a sense of loyalty and they continue to stay loyal to that beverage, to that industry, whatever it is that we're promoting. And so, as water marketers, what we should be doing is making sure we’re doing things like this, which is an exceptional opportunity to educate, to bring in an understanding of the power that water can have to a healthy lifestyle. Particularly, influencers can be credible in emphasizing how Black futures depend on Black health. Right? 

DR. JANINE RETHY: I want to piggyback on what you said. I think it's so important to start to think about this as a health justice issue. And we see just tremendous health disparities between Black adults and white adults and Hispanic adults and differences in mortality. In D.C., we have a mortality difference of 15 years. And we can trace that back to diabetes and hypertension, which have similar disparities in those adults. And diabetes and hypertension are correlated with obesity and obesity in adults goes back to obesity in children as a direct line. And obesity in children starts very young. So, by the time a child is age five, if they're obese, they're 80 percent likely to be obese when they're a teenager, and 50 percent once they are a teenager to continue it into obesity as an adult.

So, we can see this thread go all the way back. So, my work as a pediatrician, we want to decrease health disparities and increase health equity in our communities. And that line comes all the way back to our kids, like I said, and to these very crucial issues - nutrition, physical activity, and beverage consumption. As I was saying earlier, water consumption by itself, pure water consumption. There's a huge disparity between African American children and white children, and that contributes significantly to this added sugar load that they're exposed to at a very young age and those calories add up. The weight adds up, and again starts to go down that road for these health disparities into the future.

AARON WALTON: I agree. And we're seeing it right now. I mean the result of these disparities. Given the COVID-19, you're seeing communities of color that are disproportionately being impacted by it because of preexisting health conditions, which… By the way, there's not one magic bullet, right? It's, it, there's a lot of different things. Some of it is economic. Some of it is education and understanding the importance of hydration and healthy living in a healthy lifestyle. But some people don't have a choice. Particularly in black and Brown communities, there are a lot of food deserts where they don't have the option to go out and to find the same type of healthy choices that these other communities have. So, I think there's so many different parts to this that all have to come together for the common goal of making people healthier, living a better, more productive life that we all have to contribute to. And not just one.

DR. JANINE RETHY: Yeah, I agree. The upstream piece of this that you're describing, the policies and the systems and environmental changes that have to take place in communities and across the country, are very important. And there are lots of policies that affect access to water for kids for the purposes of this discussion, but for everybody, and to healthy food and exercise as you were describing, as well. So, these policies that we know so well, you know, access to drinking water in school for kids. Are they allowed to have a water bottle in school with them? Are they allowed to drink their water in school? Is there healthy, safe drinking water in homes and communities and in the schools themselves or for kids? And what is the disparity in that? And we know that there was a large disparity with access even to healthy, safe, drinking water for children. What kinds of drinks are we serving to our children in our school lunches and in our other programs? Are they having juice and high-sugar milks and things like that? Or are they getting some nice, clean, healthy, fresh water to drink with a meal? So, all of those policies and systems really do make the largest impact. And, so do all of the role models that children have in their lives. And you were talking about sports figures before. Certainly, teachers have a very important role in children's lives. Their children spend a lot of time with their teachers and having them as role models, having pediatricians as their role models, as well. How we are talking to our children. What kinds of questions we are asking them during the visit, and what kinds of expectations that we're setting for the families and for children, So, we all do have a have a role in this larger picture of having communities that are all healthy, and that all have the opportunity to thrive and be their best selves.

LESLIE BOGGS: And that's really why it's really important for parents to understand that the biggest impact that they can have on their schools, as far as getting that healthy water needed on their campuses, is to have those critical conversations, with not only their teachers, but with their administrators. And if they're getting nowhere, then get their communities involved. And there's always that needed parent voice at every campus. And we need them to get engaged. 

CHARLY ARNOLT/CARUSO: And Leslie, what do you think about the fact that there are some schools that still won't allow kids to bring their water into classrooms? 

LESLIE BOGGS: It makes no sense to me because that is such a crucial part of every child's diet. I can't imagine a school district making that happen to where they are not allowed to have it in their schools. So, number one, I'd get those parents together. And I would go to that school district and to the school board and say, Hey, this has got to change, and we're not going to do this anymore because our child's health is at risk, and you're putting them at risk.

CHARLY ARNOLT/CARUSO: And, you know, a lot of times because of this inaccessibility to water, kids are eating more, which then in turn can lead to the obesity that we're speaking about. 

LESLIE BOGGS: It does. And again, it's just really, really important for us to get kids excited about water and the way that we can do that is several different ways. You know, we've heard about parents that will freeze fruit or vegetables and ice cubes. And if not, with my own family, we freeze grapes and put it in water or strawberries and put it in water just to get them to drink it. So, you just have to find out that magic that works with your children and make that happen It makes a difference in how they will really get engaged to school and be happy and healthy. 

CHARLY ARNOLT/CARUSO: Dr. Rethy, do you notice a difference when you have patients who drink a lot of water as children and their continuation to drinking that amount of water leading into their adulthood?

DR. JANINE RETHY: Yeah, we do see that both sort of practically in the office and in the literature over time. Um, so when you have children who have been exposed to water early, as the default, we call it a culture of health, a culture of health in the home, a cultural health in the school, a cultural health in their sports teams, and so on, that they are choosing water first. This is something they begin to enjoy, that they begin to sort of crave water and look to that when they're thirsty. So, the question that I generally ask kids when we're doing our well child checkups, and we're doing on nutrition portion of the checkup, the question I start with is, “What do you drink when you're thirsty?” And I've had all kinds of answers to that, that open up some interesting discussions. 
You can see kind of what is their default?  What is their cultural health in their home and their schools, and so on? And it just sort of opens up that conversation because children are not living in a vacuum. They're living in a home. And people, family members in the home, they grew up with a culture of health in their own homes. And this is kind of what they know. So, the earlier we can get families and schools and sports teams and so on to buy into this culture of health, that water is, indeed, the easiest option for a child to choose. That's what's available to them the most. Again, on the kitchen table, in the classroom, on the sports team, when they go to buy a snack from the vending machine, that all across the way through their lives, they're seeing water first and they learn to choose water first. And the kids who are doing that grow up enjoying water and really looking to it and not developing that taste for the sweet drinks. On the contrary, the kids who have been exposed very early to juice and soda as the default for thirst, they tend to stay with that throughout their lives. And again, that accumulates over time, both with their weight and their metabolic health that we see kind of tracking with them, unfortunately, all throughout their adulthood.

LESLIE BOGGS: I do think it's really interesting when you talk to parents, especially whenever they get to my age, you know, you always talk to them about their weight, their obesity and what they're seeing in their children and even in their own discussions about I can lose weight if I drank water. We know that. If you drink water consistently throughout the day, you are going to lose weight. It's the same thing with our children. When we say that our children are obese, there's a reason. We're giving them the wrong beverage most of the time to drink. Some of it can be food. But a lot of the time, and most of the time what we're seeing across the nation, it really deals with the beverages that they're intaking. 

CHARLY ARNOLT/CARUSO: Dr. Rethy, would you go as far to say that should a child eliminate sugary beverages from their diet, and we won't say completely, but for the most part, and really rely on water as their source of hydration, that they could likely eliminate a lot of the health issues that could be experienced later on in life?

DR. JANINE RETHY: Yeah, we do. We do see that a lot. And basically, what we're finding is that water from beverages, more than any macronutrient, is this key determinant to the energy density of the diet. So right now, you know, only about 30% of a child’s water intake is from plain water. About 40% is from these sugary beverages. And some of the rest of it is from milk, which is a good source of water, as well. So, the 40% that's coming back with milk is a good source of water. (Charly interrupts) Milk is a good, yeah, so it is a good source of water because it has protein and fat in it, as well. So, it is not contributing to these high sugar spikes that we're seeing with sugar-sweetened beverages. So, we're not going to count that in the in the bad category. Kids do need their milk, as well, and certainly the plain drinking water. But if 40% of their liquid that they're drinking during the day, that they need for adequate hydration, is coming from sugar-sweetened beverages, we’re having this really excess amount of added sugars. So, if we're trying to get everybody in this country down to the less than 6% per day of added sugars in their diet from the 13 to 16% where we are at the moment, most of that can come from eliminating these sugary beverages. So, if we cut those sugary beverages down to zero, in my opinion, which is the most helpful thing to do, we can certainly as eliminate a significant portion of metabolic syndrome, outcomes and disparities that we're seeing in this country. And that's why I always really do start my discussion with my patients to get a sense of what they're drinking when they're thirsty. And oftentimes, if it is a large proportion of sugary beverages, which includes not just soda. It includes the sweetened teas. It includes the sports drinks. It includes a fruit juice, as well. There is really a very limited space for juice in children's lives, particularly for children who are not getting vitamin C from other sources, from fruits and vegetables. But if they are, there's really very little place for fruit juice, as well. So, when we find out that a large portion of their hydration is coming from those sources and we can talk through and help families and children understand the harm that can come from it and the fact that it's really not necessary for their health at all.

AARON WALTON: You know, it's really interesting what Dr. Rethy just said. It's funny because I started thinking about when I was growing up, we were told drink a lot of orange juice, a lot of juices. And, for us, that was a healthy way of moving through the world. And that's what I was saying early on. As we become more knowledgeable and the science kind of helps us understand the impact of it, our shifts are going to happen in terms of how this really starts to be marketed and how it starts to get the idea of what that juice can do, good and bad, really will start to impact our behavior. And it'll start to impact how brands start to market it. But I'm laughing at all the things that I thought were healthy and that have completely changed.

DR. JANINE RETHY: Yeah, the science has really changed. And so being able to share that with children and families is really nice. It's really helpful; then they like to hear it. And I think it can inform their decisions to make changes in their homes. But I do hope that it does start to expand, as you were talking about earlier, to other role models in the children's lives. You know, particularly, within the media, with celebrities, with sports figures, that they are seeing this as the default as the new culture of health.

CHARLY ARNOLT/CARUSO: So, Aaron, how can you work with these companies that have a bottom line to look out for, you know, there are promoting sugary drinks, but obviously the awareness is out there. Now, the science is well known that drinking water is the best source of hydration. How do you talk to these companies say, okay, I understand what you're trying to do, but we also have to be careful about swaying kids in the wrong direction, because we do have to look after their health and wellbeing, as well.

AARON WALTON: Yeah. I think that most companies understand their corporate responsibility. I think that part of what we have to do is not only share the science, but also share the opportunity to build an industry that has not really been focused on, or part of the industry that has not been focused on. To be honest, when you look at the sugary beverages and you look at the sports drinks, there's a lot of money that is targeted in those areas. And that's where a lot of the influencers and celebrities go. They're not going to do anything that they inherently believe is bad, but they do want to use their celebrity to help sell that particular product. I think it's important for those companies to start to shift where their dollars are being spent, shift where their focus is and start to create that level of demand.

And by the way, the demand has to come up, as well. Right? So, consumers have to start raising their hand saying, we want more of this, we want more of this. But I do think that we can help edge that on if we go out and find the right celebrities that believe and understand the power that hydration has to help the very fans that are looking to them for leadership. So, part of it is really just sitting down with companies. Writing out a strategic plan for them in terms of how they're going to address this potential need, what some of the key influencers are that we could attach ourselves to as a brand to help drive that demand and that awareness and that education. 

CHARLY ARNOLT/CARUSO: So, Leslie, I guess off of that I would ask you, how is the National PTA raising awareness and then passing that on to its network of schools about the importance of hydration?

LESLIE BOGGS: Well, the PTA has created resources as part of our healthy lifestyles initiative and healthy hydration grant program that communicates the importance of hydration and, specifically, healthy hydration. So, it's really important for parents to know that those resources are available and that they're available on our website at www.pta.org. And through our healthy hydration grant program, we awarded grants to 25 PTAs across the country to raise awareness in their school communities of the importance of this hydration, and they really have had great success. And so, we're modeling that success and we're going to hopefully increase those particular grant opportunities in the future. 

AARON WALTON: So, I think Leslie brings up a really good point, which is, as the PTAs are looking in the community, so too should the water companies. The sugary-beverage companies, quite frankly, have done an amazing job, for all the right reasons, which is to go into these communities and support kids with scholarships, with internships, with all types of things that are meaningful to those communities. So, why shouldn't we figure out ways, or why can't the water companies figure out ways, to really be active members in the communities that they live in and that they serve? And the more that they do that, the more that they're going to start to build that bond, the more that they're going to start to build that relationship, which is an authentic, credible relationship with the very people that are meaningful to their success as a company.

LESLIE BOGGS: And we've been very lucky. Nestlé has been the first company that's come and partnered with PTA to make sure that these healthy hydration grants are possible. That’s what we're seeing. They come and they really help us get into the schools and give parents just the knowledge that they need to take home. And also, for the school districts to understand the importance of water. And, you know, you mentioned earlier about school districts that didn't allow water bottles, and what better way to partner with PTA and say, hey, we will partner together and provide water bottles for those children in those schools. Let's do this together. Let's partner together and ensure that every student has that right to receive the water that they need. That's a great partnership. And I think we can make that happen.

CHARLY ARNOLT/CARUSO: That's an amazing partnership. (Guests talking) How Nestlé Water for partnering with the national PTA? I think that's incredible. I had no idea. So that's so nice to hear.

LESLIE BOGGS: Yeah, they've been phenomenal.

CHARLY ARNOLT/CARUSO: And ultimately, do you think that it's up to parents to impress the importance of hydration through water onto their kids? Or is this something that you see kids being the initiator in deciding that water is the best choice for them?

LESLIE BOGGS: I think it's both. I don't think we're going to get anywhere unless it's both. And I think it's not only them. I think it's the community. I think, as a world. Remember, we started off saying we only have one Earth? It's going to take us all to understand the importance of water and how it affects all of us. And all of our voice will make a difference, if we all joined together.

AARON WALTON: I couldn't agree more. I really believe Leslie is absolutely right. This is everyone holding hands; everyone understanding the impact; everyone understanding our respective responsibilities and doing the right thing. And Charlie, you asked what can companies do? What can some of the water companies do? They’ve got to get in the game. They can't sit on the sidelines and say that's bad for you. They got to get in the game. They've got to be aggressive about making sure that, not only is the knowledge about hydration and water there, but they have to get competitive.

LESLIE BOGGS: I couldn't agree more. And you said it earlier, Aaron. We're not saying do totally away with anything, right, as long as you balance throughout the day? But it is important for everyone to understand the importance of water and how it really affects our bodies and our minds. And especially with students today, in the environment that they are learning. I know we hear about it. COVID-19 has put on pounds for everyone. And so, I think that's happening with our children, as well. We're sedentary more. And if we don't get up and move more, and we don't drink the water we should be, then we're going to be in worse shape than we were before. So, we really need for them to really have these critical conversations.

DR. JANINE RETHY: I do want to just add to that, as well. As our understanding of the impact of water and of sugary beverages on child health and adult health has really crystallized recently, so have our policies from a federal and local level. Just recently, last month actually, the USDA put out their new guidelines, new nutritional guidelines. And for the first time ever, they included a whole chapter on beverages, which includes a lot of the science that we talked about today. The association with these poor health outcomes and really laying out some ideas for policies that I think are going to start to trickle down as far as how beverages affect particularly our children. They've paid special attention to our children and our young children. And so I think we all going to see some additional policy changes that really can make the biggest impact, and how we market sugary beverages to children that we're looking at it as harmful for children, that we should protect children, what kind of access children have to sugary beverages in schools and other places. And so, I'm hopeful as this coming year comes to be, that these new USDA guidelines are going to have some more impactful outcomes in our communities

CHARLY ARNOLT/CARUSO: Unbelievable that the nutrition guide finally now just included a chapter on beverages. That's unbelievable. So, from each of your perspectives, what are some tips that you would think wise to pass along to parents or caregivers, whatever the case may be, to get children to drink more water from here on out? 

LESLIE BOGGS: You know, I think that, probably on a parent's perspective, is modeling is the best that you can do. Make sure that you are drinking the water that is necessary, so your children are doing that, as well. And talk to the teachers and the coaches that they're in touch with and making sure that they're modeling, as well, because they look up to them, as well as to the celebrities that they're watching. 

DR. JANINE RETHY: Yeah. I agree. I think modeling is the most important thing that we have for children. And again, it's from parents, it's from schools, it's from the community, it's from celebrities and so on. But at home, again there are many families and parents who grew up drinking sugary beverages and juice as a part of the diet. And so, from a pediatrician’s perspective, is working with the whole family that this child is not living in isolation. And so, how is the parent shopping? Do they feel safe drinking their water in their home? Do they need access to safe water? And start to change this culture of health in the home. It takes the whole family. So, it needs to do that. For families who are already drinking a lot of sugary drinks as a part of their diet, it can be sometimes hard to change very quickly.
So, people still do like the taste of something in their water until they can get used to plain water. And then they like that, too. Some ideas that Leslie had spoken about earlier, I think work really well. So, putting frozen fruit in the water, making some infusions with all kinds of different waters, or even some people like vegetables like cucumbers and things like that, in the water. I like the ice cube idea. So just to give a little bit of a taste. Even for some kids, we'll start out kind of diluting the water down to just putting maybe one quarter of the juice and mostly water. That makes a big difference. And then slowly, over time, kids will get used to having, and really craving in a sense, nice cold ice water.

AARON WALTON: I would agree with everything that has been said. I think it starts with education. I think it starts with a really deep understanding of what some of the hurdles are, particularly in the multicultural communities. And then what we have to do as citizens to help overcome some of those hurdles.

DR. JANINE RETHY: Another resource for parents is the American Academy of Pediatrics healthy children.org. So, this is a wonderful website that's specific for parents and it's taking all of the science that we have in pediatrics around child health and putting it in a format that parents and families can enjoy. So, we have quite a bit of information on there about healthy beverages, about drinking water, both the science and some practical tips for parents, as well. 

CHARLY ARNOLT/CARUSO: Well, it seems like through the course of our discussion, I know personally I feel that there's a lot more hope to encourage and promote hydration through water to our younger generation. So, I guess I leave you with this final question and that is, can water ultimately become cool?

LESLIE BOGGS: Of course, it can. Definitely.

AARON WALTON: I would agree 100 percent. It already is cool, and we know what it does for us. We just have to articulate it a little bit more and we need to take some of the tools that we have used to make other beverages cool and help water become a lifestyle brand, which is what we're kind of holding onto. We're not just buying the sugary beverage. We're buying with that lifestyle, with what it makes us feel, how it makes us feel, not just in terms of when we consume it, but when we're seen with it. And there's no reason that we can't do that, make water hip, cool for another generation of kids.

CHARLY ARNOLT/CARUSO: So, thank you so much to all of you. I think this was such an interesting conversation. There's so many aspects and it really is just such a much deeper conversation than I think what meets the eye at first. So, I thank all of you for your knowledge and your wisdom and bringing your expertise from all of your separate areas into this discussion because it really was eye opening. So, thank you so, so much.

This episode has touched on just a few of the dedicated organizations, and also the individuals who are helping to make drinking water the cool choice for kids. A big thank you once again to this episode's guests, Leslie, Dr. Rethy and Aaron, all three of whom are raising awareness about the importance of healthy hydration, which is helping to raise a new generation of healthy children. So, I hope they've inspired you as much as they have me. 

And now we would like to single out a very special group whose commitment to healthy hydration has engaged the community to help to ensure that they make drinking water their coolest beverage choice. So, I'm very pleased to feature our Planet Hero, the Terramar Academy of the Arts PTSA of Peoria, Arizona. 

PTSAs are part of national PTA. Last November, the PTSA at Terramar Academy of the Arts held a special healthy hydration fundraising event. More than 200 teachers, administrators, community partners and families attended the event. The families especially enjoyed the event because they had the chance to interact with one another while also learning about the importance of drinking more water. They sampled tasty, infused water, learned about the sugar content in many popular drinks and entered a raffle to win a stainless-steel water flask. 
I recently spoke with PTSA treasurer, Nicole Bambalere. So, let's hear why she is so enthusiastic about the ways in which the school’s PTSA is inspired their community to make healthy choices, and why it is this episode's Planet Hero. 
Nicole, thank you so much for joining This Is How We Planet. How are you today? 

NICOLE BAMBALERE: Fantastic. Thank you for having me on.

CHARLY ARNOLT/CARUSO: Absolutely. Well, I am currently drinking water, so I do think that it is a very cool choice of a beverage, but why did the PTSA decide to host a healthy hydration event? 

NICOLE BAMBALERE: I think that, as the PTSA, because we are that community kind of bridge in between schools and families, that it was really something important to have featured at one of our biggest fundraisers of the year. It gave us the opportunity to really show people the underside of the beverage industry, that there's a lot of hidden sugar in things that our kids are drinking every single day because it is marketed to them that it's the cool thing. So, having a hydration station really allowed us to show parents that water could be cool, as well. And the students really loved it. 

CHARLY ARNOLT/CARUSO: So, what types of other health and wellness events do you see yourself focusing on in the future or do you have plans to focus on?

NICOLE BAMBALERE: As far as future events, it's a little bit different this year, but every event that we plan on having that has a good amount of people, a good turnout that we expect, we're going to have these hydration stations. As part of the grant that we received to do this, we were able to purchase, I think we purchased half a dozen of these reusable water infusers. And so, we plan on having these at every single event that we have in the future, just so that we can have healthy options for our community. We understand what the other options are out there, and we want to make sure that we're providing the healthiest one for our community.

CHARLY ARNOLT/CARUSO: Absolutely. I think when you learn these habits as a child or a young adult, they really do carry on over into your life. I know that I had a lot of habits because the landscape of health and wellness has really changed so much in the past 10 years, even 20 years. I know that when I was younger, I was eating and drinking things that now I have completely eliminated from my diet. 

NICOLE BAMBALERE: I absolutely agree. And I was the same way in high school. If drinking water, I mean, other than at practice or something for a sport, oh, no. 

CHARLY ARNOLT/CARUSO: Right.

NICOLE BAMBALERE: And now I'm thinking I haven't drunk a soda in, I don't even know how many years, just because I drink that much water. And that is something, too, as you mentioned, that we don't really present it as an option to our kids. Like to have a sugary beverage is a special occasion treat in our house. And that's something that we're really trying to instill in our community, too, is pushing them away from that sugary beverage into the healthier options zone. 

CHARLY ARNOLT/CARUSO: Well, I can obviously see that you're super-passionate about what you do. And you really believe in the change that you're trying to promote and really directing it at our younger generation. So, what does make you so passionate about your work for PTSA?

NICOLE BAMBALERE: A lot of what we do is we bridge what the school districts or the state cannot provide. And we give the schools the things that they need with the funds that we raise. It just really gives us a chance, or it gives me a chance, to be involved in our community and to see what my kids are doing and how I can help impact things.
I'm I cancer survivor. I had breast cancer a few years ago and I'm doing great, but I also have seen the impact that health and wellness makes in people's lives. And so, being able to take my experience as a cancer coach now and showing others, especially with water. Water is a huge part of your health and wellness. And I'm able to put my passion into not only my work, but also into my volunteer work. And I absolutely love that because it makes a huge impact on our schools.

CHARLY ARNOLT/CARUSO: Well, Nicole, thank you so much. If there's anything additional you could share with us about your work or what it is that you're doing, or anything else that listeners could benefit from, I'd love to hear it.

NICOLE BAMBALERE: I think probably the biggest thing that I would say is, don't be afraid of your Parent Teacher Association. Get involved with your PTA. They may need you to do one simple thing that's your specialty. And I know that's what we, as a PTA, look for. How can we involve our community members that have these special talents to do something that gives back to their community, especially in day and age? I think that giving back is huge. It makes such a difference and it really helps push us forward. And it really helps our future generations to thrive.

CHARLY ARNOLT/CARUSO: Well, Nicole, thank you so much and thank you for everything that you do. And just want to say congratulations once again on being our Planet Hero and your organization also being our Planet Hero.

NICOLE BAMBALERE: Thank you so much. We really appreciate the opportunity to come on and speak with you today.

CHARLY ARNOLT/CARUSO: Absolutely. Lovely speaking with you. 

A big thank you to Nicole and the student members of the Terramar Academy of the Arts PTSA for inspiring us to be our own planet heroes. And thank you to our guests for enlightening us about the benefits of healthy hydration for kids, and also recommending what we can do to end discrimination in hydration. You truly make the planet better for all of us. 

Now, do you know someone who is a Planet Hero? How have they made your community or state a better place to live? We would love to hear about them and the work that they do. You can nominate them at www.thisishowweplanet.com and we may even feature them on a future episode. 

And if you would like to learn more about the people in the organizations that we've just spoken with, you can also once again visit www.thisishowweplanet.com. There, you can also find some links to healthy hydration tools, and also get some tips to get your kids to drink even more water. 

Now, we hope you've enjoyed the discussion. I know I have. So, thank you once again for joining us, and we look forward to having you with us once again for another future episode of This Is How We Planet. So, until next time, I'm your host, Charlie Arnolt. And don't forget, This Is How We Planet.