Drinking fountains shrinking away

Drinking fountains in public parks are drying up.

As the UK gears up for summer and a spell of hot weather, only 11 per cent of parks were found to provide water fountains.

Of these, only two-thirds functioned. Only eight of the 140 parks included in a study published today were found to have every fountain working.

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Campaigners expressed concerns that the absence of freely available water encouraged thirsty children to turn to fizzy drinks or go without.

Dr Vivienne Nathanson, Head of Science and Ethics at the British Medical Association, said youngsters 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. "The results of this survey show we are failing to provide any incentive to children to reduce their intake of sugary soft drinks which we know can lead to major health problems including obesity and poor dental health."

The study was conducted as part of the Children's Food Campaign, which is now pushing for drinking water in all public parks.

The survey was held between July and September last year.