Children are not drinking as much water as they should and the deficiency can have far-reaching implications.
Even mild dehydration can affect physiological function and cause fatigue, muscle weakness, headaches and dry mouth. Impaired cognitive and mental performance are also linked to inadequate hydration. Only 15 to 60 percent of boys and 10 to 54 percent of girls, depending on age, drink the minimum amount of water recommended by the U.S. Institute of Medicine.
Children obtain much of their water from sweetened beverages rather plain old H2O, the researchers found.
And those who drink the most plain water consume fewer sweetened beverages and eat fewer high-calorie foods.
The researchers looked at the water intake of 3,978 boys and girls, aged 2 to 19 years, who had been included in a national nutrition study from 2005 to 2006. Included in their analysis was water itself, water in moist foods, and (water) in all beverages and nutritious drinks such as milk and juice.
The investigators found that water intake from all sources varied by age: 2- to 5- year-olds drank 5.9 cups a day; 6- to 11- year-olds got 6.8 cups, and 12- to 19- year-olds consumed 10/1 cups daily. Girls generally drank less than boys.
Kids of all ages are more likely to drink beverages rather than water at mealtime. More than two-thirds of water consumption was derived from beverages with main meals, while only one-third of the plain water was consumed with meals, the researchers found.
“Efforts to moderate the consumption of sweetened beverages and promote plain water intake should not only continue to promote plain water for snacks, but also should recognize the importance of replacing non-nutritive beverages at meal time with plain water.”
As the children got older, consumption of plain water increased while intake of nutritive beverages, such as milk, decreased.
Water makes up 55 to 75 percent of total body weight. “We cannot live without water for more than a few days because our bodies cannot store water. Thus, is it essential we replace the water our bodies lose every day.”
A nutritionist and dietitian, advise starting children on water early. “Give them water instead of sweetened beverages during the day and between meals,” she said.
“To make it more appealing, put sliced cucumbers, oranges, lemons or strawberries in ice water”, she suggested.
“And if your child is hooked on sodas, we advised transitioning to plain soda water or flavoured soda water instead.
Source: Noyes News – Issue: November/December 2010