U.S. Kids Not Drinking Enough Water Each Day
Written by Editor   
Friday, July 03, 2015 01:15 PM
Quick Brief:  Many American children and teens are not consuming enough liquids every day. This potential public health problem poses a significant health risk.


Many American children and teens aren't consuming enough liquids -- especially water -- and that lack of hydration could affect their physical and mental health, a new study suggests.  The findings "highlight a potential health issue that has not been given a whole lot of attention in the past,” the study's author stated.  "Even though for most of these kids this is not an immediate, dramatic health threat, this is an issue that could really be reducing quality of life and well-being for many, many children and youth," she added.

Children can be more susceptible to dehydration than adults.  That, coupled with an already impaired hydration status, can have physiological problems such as neurological issues, increased demands on their kidneys and heat stroke.

In the study, Harvard University researchers looked at data from more than 4,000 children and teens, aged 6 to 19, who took part in the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey between 2009 and 2012.  About half of the children and teens weren't getting enough hydration. The likelihood of inadequate hydration was 76 percent higher in boys than girls, and 34 percent higher in blacks than whites, the researchers said.  Nearly one-quarter of the study participants said they drank no plain water at all.

Lack of water ingestion is a significant issue for America's children, with multiple causes. During the school day, access to water may be limited, and many children may even avoid consuming water because they prefer not to use the bathrooms at school. This may stem from lack of privacy, embarrassment, or even bullying or other risks associated with being in the bathroom.  The food industry is also a contributor as they are selling juices, sports drinks and water. The good old water fountain or a refillable water bottle may lack appeal to trend-conscious kids.

The Harvard researchers said that proper hydration is crucial for physical processes such as circulation, metabolism, temperature regulation and waste removal. Excessive dehydration can cause serious problems, they said, but even mild dehydration can cause headaches, irritability, poor circulation, reduced physical performance, and poorer mental functioning.

The good news is that this is a public health problem with a simple solution the study senior author noted.  "If we can focus on helping children drink more water -- a low-cost, no-calorie beverage -- we can improve their hydration status, which may allow many children to feel better throughout the day and do better in school."

The study indicated that by increasing water intake by 1 cup or 8 ounces per day, hydration was improved. Some tips for parents to help boost their child's water intake:

"Keep water cold. Add frozen water bottles to a child's lunch pack," she said. The bottles will keep their lunch cold and thaw throughout the day so they are cool to drink. Cold water tastes better to children than room temperature.

"Don't rely on a child's thirst. Thirst is not a good indicator of hydration." Children need to have access to water throughout the day.

"Try infusing water with fruit (such as oranges), vegetables (such as cucumbers), or herbs (such as mint) to give the water a flavor without adding extra sugars."

Source:   http://consumer.healthday.com/kids-health-information-23/child-development-news-124/u-s-kids-not-drinking-enough-water-each-day-700291.html