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U.S. Kids Don’t Drink Enough Water

Study Shows Children Drink Less Than the Recommended Amount of Water
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

Sept. 24, 2010 --The amount of water U.S. children drink varies based on their age, but tends to be lower than what is recommended, a study shows.

Despite the well known health benefits of consuming an adequate amount of water, until now there has been little hard data showing how much plain water (from the tap or bottled) kids are drinking.

Researchers analyzed the total water intake of 3,978 children aged 2 to 19 who took part in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from 2005 to 2006. Children ages 2 through 5 drank 1.4 liters of water per day, while children aged 6 to 11 drank 1.6 liters. The amount of water rose to 2.4 liters among adolescents aged 12 to 19, the study showed. On average, adolescents aged 2 to 19 drank 1.9 liters of water per day.

The study is published in the Oct. 1 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

All children except those aged 2 to 3 had less than the adequate intake of water as recommended by the Institute of Medicine. More boys than girls reported having at least an adequate intake of water, the researchers report.

Water can come from many sources beside plain water. The amount of water that came from plain water increased with age from 22% among those children aged 2 to 5 to 33% among 12- to 19-year-olds, the researchers report.

The main meals were the biggest contributor of beverage moisture, but only a third of the plain water intake. The researchers say this finding suggests that American children of all ages are more likely to drink beverages rather than plain water with meals, suggesting a possible strategy to increase water consumption.

“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 nonnutritive beverages at meal time with plain water,” conclude study researchers Ashima K. Kant, PhD, and Barry I. Graubard, PhD, of Queens College of the City University of New York.

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