Primary schools encouraged to go ‘Milk or Water Only’ with new Food Active toolkit

Primary schools encouraged to go ‘Milk or Water Only’ with new Food Active toolkit

To mark World Water Day (22nd March 2023), Food Active have launched a new policy toolkit designed to support primary schools to adopt a Milk or Water Only policy and promote healthy smiles from pupils.

The toolkit aims to help support the health of pupils by promoting drinking water and low-fat milk as the default options within the school environment. The initiative is part of a wider campaign, ‘Give Up Loving Pop’ developed by Food Active, a North-West based public health charity.

National data published just last month reported that tooth decay is the most common reason for hospital admission in children aged six to 10, with just under 27,000 episodes of tooth extractions with a primary diagnosis of dental caries (tooth decay) for 0- to 19-year-olds[i].

Promoting milk and water as the healthiest sources of hydration can support  good oral health, as well as addressing other important issues such as healthy weight and reducing plastic pollution associated with bottled soft drinks.

Furthermore, schools are an ideal setting to set a positive example of healthy behaviours and teach pupils about the importance of healthy hydration.

The policy has already been implemented by two schools in Cheshire West and Chester, who were involved in a pilot of the toolkit in 2020/21. Under the policy, drinks that have added sugar such as flavoured waters and fizzy drinks are no longer allowed on school premises. This also includes fruit juices and smoothies, which often contain high levels of sugar despite being advertised as healthy[ii].

You can hear more about how schools can make the swap to milk or water by listening to our latest podcast episode below, which features an interview with Shocklach Oviatt C of E Primary School.


The toolkit is designed for local authorities, to share with their local schools to support them to make the swap to milk or water and promote good health and wellbeing with pupils.


Prof. Ian Ashworth, Director of Public Health at Cheshire West and Chester Council said:

“Ensuring the health and wellbeing of our young people is incredibly important and we all know the negative impacts that high sugar and caffeinated soft drinks can have on both physical and mental health. We are delighted that two of our schools in the borough have been the first to implement this Milk or Water Only policy, demonstrating fantastic commitment to the health and wellbeing of their pupils. We are looking forward to sharing this useful resource with schools across the borough in the coming months.”


Interested in the Milk or Water Only Toolkit?

For further information about the toolkit, including how to access the resource and supporting materials, please visit the link below.




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