US children aren’t drinking enough water: Author says they can improve children’s hydration status by getting them to drink more water.

Proper hydration is thought to be such an integral part of our life that people take it for granted that everyone drinks the required amount of water. A new study shows that kids at least are not drinking enough water.

Drinking Enough Water

When most studies focus on child nutrition, one vital part of the daily diet is usually ignored: the hydrating powers of water. Our bodies absorb water not only through consuming the liquid but also through other beverages, fruits, soups and water-based foods.

In a study conducted by Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health, researchers observed that children in the United States are not drinking enough water and are not adequately hydrated.

The study included data spanning from 2009-2012 covering 4000 participants in the age range of 6-19 years. The data was obtained from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, which is conducted by the U.S. Center of Disease Control and Prevention every year. It combines interviews as well as physical examinations of children and adults to assess their nutritional and health status.

Researchers looked at associations between demographic factors, hydration status and intake of beverages. The scientists measured urine osmolality (concentrations of components found in urine) to determine if the subjects were dehydrated or properly hydrated.

“A higher number means that you are dehydrated and your urine will be concentrated while a lower number means that you are well hydrated.” Lead author of the paper, Erica Kenney explained. “The color of the urine is key. Light colored urine indicates hydration whereas the darker the urine, the greater the degree of dehydration.”

Boys were found to be 76% more likely to be dehydrated than girls. Another point of interest was that as many as 25% of the participants reported that they didn’t drink any water every day.

Kenney is a postdoctoral research fellow at Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health also said, “These findings are significant because they highlight a potential health issue that has not bee given a lot of attention on the past. Even though for most kids this is not a dramatic health threat this issue could reduce the quality of life and well-being for many children.”

Drinking the required amount of water is not only beneficial for overall health but physiological processes such as metabolism, temperature regulation, waste removal and circulation all require water.

The researchers explained that proper hydration helps children both physically and mentally. They not feel better but can perform better in school as well.

Dehydration can affect children’s moods, fatigue levels, and most probably their ability to learn. Even mild dehydration can cause problems such as irritability, headaches, lessened emotional and cognitive functions as well as poorer physical performance.

Senior author of the paper, Steven Gortmaker suggested that although the kids in America may have a dehydration issue, the solution is quite simple. “We can improve their hydration status if we get the kids to drink more water. It’s a low-cost, no calorie beverage.” The study was published online in the American Journal of Public Health on June 11, 2015.