Researchers at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health have found that half the kids and teen living in the United States don’t drink nearly enough water. They’re letting themselves get dehydrated, which in turn threatens their physical and mental health, and general well being.
The study, published earlier this week, on Thursday (June 11, 2015), in the American Journal of Public Health, is the first to look at the hydration levels of kids and teens. The team behind the project believes that their study is finally shinning a light on a serious health issue that hasn’t been given the proper attention until now.
Erica Kenny, lead authior and postdoctoral research fellow in the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences at Harvard’s Chan School, gave a statement to CBS News saying that “There’s a lot of research out there to suggest that even mild levels of dehydration are enough to impact cognitive functioning and mood in kids”.
For the project, which took place between the years of 1009 and 2012, the team of researchers looked at data collected from more than 4.000 kids and teen with the age between 6 and 19. They were careful to include subjects of various races, ethnicities and gender groups.
They used urine osmolality in order to measure how concentrated a person’s urine is. The team informs that a lower concentration means a person is well hydrated, while a higher concentration means a person is not well hydrated. Color is also important. A light colored urine suggests a person is well hydrated, while a dark colored urine suggests a person is not well hydrated.
The scientists found that there was no shortage of differences between groups. For start, boys were far less likely to drink water than girls, 76 percent (76%) less likely to be exact. And non-Hispanic black subjects were 34 percent (34%) less likely to drink water than non-Hispanic white subjects. What’s even more alarming is that one in four (1 in 4) subjects admitted to not drinking any plain water whatsoever.
The researchers are worried as the short-term health problems caused by dehydration are well documented – headaches, sleepiness, dizziness, irritability, dry mouth, dry skin, increased heart rate and poorer physical performance. If the condition persists it can easily lead to more serious health problems.
Erica Kenny informs that drinking enough water is highly important as it helps with circulation, metabolism, temperature regulation, and waste removal.
The Institute of Medicine informs that children with the aged between 9 and 13 have to drink somewhere between seven to eight (7 to 8) cups of fluid per day, and teenagers with the aged between 14 and 18 have to drink somewhere between eight to eleven cups (8 to 11).
The lead researcher criticizes schools in particular. She says that many schools still have very old water fountains that no one wants to drink from, and other simply don’t have enough water fountains for the number of kids that study there.
She pointed out that another recent study has shown how water intake increased in kids and teens in certain New York City public schools after they installed water dispensers.
She also advises parents to improve the taste of plain water by squeezing a little lemon juice in their kids’ cups. Fresh fruit ad flavor without also adding the sugar and chemicals found in sodas. She stresses that this is an easy problem to solve.
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