Restaurants should offer customers tap water as a matter of course as part of the sector’s response to the obesity crisis, the Local Government Association has said.
The LGA, which represents more than 370 councils with responsibility for public health, said tap water needs to be made more freely available as an alternative to sugary drinks, rather than something customers have to ask for.
An LCA survey found that eight out of 10 people regularly drink tap water at home, yet only a third do so when eating out at restaurants.
Of those people who usually drink tap water at home, 15% never think of asking for water in cafes or restaurants, while 13% said it made them feel awkward.
Premises selling alcohol are legally required to provide tap water; however many restaurants only do so on request.
The LCA has urged the Government to use its forthcoming childhood obesity strategy to encourage restauranteurs to take responsibility and offer parents and children the choice of tap water as an alternative to sugary soft drinks.
“We want restaurant owners to play their part in tackling childhood obesity by offering families tap water,” said Cllr Izzi Seccombe, LGA Community Wellbeing spokeswoman. “While most restaurants will happily provide a glass of tap water on request, we’re saying it shouldn’t be something you have to ask for.”