Page last updated at 09:58 GMT, Monday, 31 May 2010 10:58 UK

Drinking fountains in public parks 'are drying up'

Drinking fountain
Drinking water instead of sugary drinks has major health benefits, experts say

Drinking fountains in public parks are drying up, with only 11% of green spaces found to provide water fountains, according to a new survey.

Of these, just two-thirds functioned, and only eight of the 140 parks across the UK that were included in the study had every fountain working.

The survey was conducted by the Children's Food Campaign which works to improve children's health.

It said a lack of water pushes children to go without or to drink fizzy drinks.

Dr Vivienne Nathanson, head of science and ethics at the British Medical Association, warned children were "particularly susceptible" to dehydration.

"At a time when we are fighting an obesity crisis in the UK, it is essential children readily have access to free, safe drinking water in schools and public parks," she said.

She added that sugary soft drinks can lead to major health problems including obesity and poor dental health.

Christine Blower, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said: "It is tragic that even in the handful of parks that have drinking fountains, so few are actually working."

The survey included 127 parks in England, eight in Scotland, two in Wales and two in Northern Ireland.

Given that there are about 5,000 public parks in the UK, this represents roughly a 3% sample.

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