Our Children Are Not Drinking Enough Water. This is Not Okay4 years ago | Eating And Drinking Water
By Joy Stephenson-Laws, JD, Founder
Water is probably the most important of the six essential nutrients our bodies need to remain healthy. (The other five nutrients are protein, fat, carbohydrates, minerals and vitamins). We need water to digest our food, absorb the other nutrients from the food we eat and get rid of waste so that we can increase our chances of maintaining a healthy weight.
I don’t like to play favorites with the six essential nutrients (because they are all key to our health), however, there is no denying that water is the only nutrient that will cause death within days if you don’t have it.
Despite the serious importance of this nutrient, many of us just don’t drink enough water on a daily basis. Some people are just not aware of their water intake. We’ve all been guilty of going a whole day practically drinking no water (perhaps instead downing coffee or diet sodas). This is evident if your urine is very yellow and has a brownish color.
But even more troubling is that many Americans, including children, don’t always have access to safe, clean drinking water. And according to a recent study, this could be one of the reasons why many children in the United States never drink plain water. And to add insult to injury, these kids are often getting their water intake from unhealthy drinks such as sugar sweetened beverages which could be partly to blame for America’s childhood obesity epidemic.
According to recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), obesity now affects 1 in 5 children and adolescents in the United States. And obese children have a much greater chance of being obese as adults. Obesity increases the risk of developing several health issues including cancer, heart disease, diabetes, hypertension and depression.
Furthermore, the CDC reports that obesity disproportionately affects children from low-income families. And in these low-income communities is where you are likely to find the clean water issues.
We are all most likely very familiar with the water crisis in Flint, Michigan and the horrible health issues this is causing members of this community. And clean water issues extend far beyond Flint. According to this 2017 news report, 63 million Americans were exposed to unsafe drinking water in areas in California, Texas, Illinois and other states.
According to a more recent news report discussing the recent study, some American children never drink plain water. Twenty percent of U.S. kids (ages 2 to 19) drink no plain water at all.
(To be clear, plain water is tap water or unflavored, regular bottled water).
These kids are also consuming around 100 extra calories per day from drinking beverages such as sugar sweetened fruit juices and sodas.
What’s particularly telling about the study is that, during “the last 15 years, we’ve seen a decrease in sugar sweetened-beverage intake among children, which is very encouraging, but there are still pockets and subpopulations that have high consumption levels," said one of the lead authors, in the report from an interview.
But these pockets and subpopulations where kids are not drinking water tend to be in areas where residents do not trust that their drinking water is safe. So this is not just a health issue but also a social issue.
“Contaminated water tends to be found in the same low-income communities that have little access to healthy food or safe places to exercise, two factors that also contribute to a higher obesity risk,” according to the report
So there are many factors contributing to high obesity rates in low-income communities.
How Can You Be Proactive?
I recently came across a story about a remarkable young woman who started a company called Aquagenuity. In a nutshell, it is a clean water app.
“Her company, Aquagenuity, is on a mission to improve the quality of life for people in the United States who are exposed to water pollution and threatened by water scarcity every day,” according to this Forbes profile.
“The app provides up-to-date, actionable water quality for consumers, corporations and smart cities, allowing users to easily find out what’s in their water and how it impacts them from a health or regulatory perspective. Users also receive a customized roadmap so they can take action, reduce risks, and improve their total water score.”
It’s unfortunate that people in Flint and other low-income communities have not been prioritized and given access to safe drinking water, but at least this app may be able to take away some of the helplessness and guessing game when it comes to knowing whether or not your water is safe to drink.
To learn about how you can help all Americans have access to clean water, click here.
What If Your Child Just Doesn’t Like Drinking Plain Water?
This can be challenging, especially if your child is accustomed to drinking soda and sweet juices. But we have to get children out of this habit as soon as possible if we want them to lead healthy lives.
Talk to your children about the importance of drinking water and avoiding sugary drinks. Involve them in healthy meal prep and make sure they get plenty of nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables in their daily diet.
Eating fruits and veggies are a great way to get part of your daily water intake. For example, watermelon and cucumbers are very water-rich. In addition to this, the nutrients (including vitamins, minerals and fiber) will help your child develop well physically and mentally and maintain a healthy weight.
You can also infuse your child’s water with berries, pineapple or other fruits to add nutrients to their water and give them a sweet taste without the unnatural additives and added sugars you would get from processed fruit juices and sodas. If you really want to get creative, infuse water with herbs, such as mint, for flavor and nutrients. (Many herbs and spices are just as nutrient-dense as fruits and vegetables).
Finally, make sure your child takes routine tests which identify the water levels in the body. There are machines like the InBody machine which will identify whether the right balance of water is present in your body. Nutritional imbalances (as in having too much or too little of a certain nutrient) increase the risk of obesity and other health issues. If there is an imbalance, you can work with a competent healthcare professional to make the necessary dietary changes and possibly incorporate a supplement regimen into your child’s proactive healthcare plan.
Do you have a hard time getting your kid to drink water? Feel free to join the conversation and share some tips and tricks.
Enjoy your healthy life!
The pH professional health care team includes recognized experts from a variety of health care and related disciplines, including physicians, attorneys, nutritionists, nurses and certified fitness instructors. This team also includes the members of the pH Medical Advisory Board, which constantly monitors all pH programs, products and services. To learn more about the pH Medical Advisory Board, click here.