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Study: When People Buy Bottled Water, Health Is Not Usually Their Primary Motivation

June 19, 2009 -- Despite tough economic times, people are still shelling out money for bottled water. Why? The primary motivator is convenience, not perceived health benefits, according to a study conducted in the United Kingdom.

Although most study participants said there were general health benefits to bottled water, they were unsure exactly what these benefits were and considered them negligible.

The study, published in the open access journal BMC Public Health, is based on interviews with 23 users of the Munrow Sports Centre on the University of Birmingham Campus. The interviews took place between January 2008 and March 2008. The majority of participants - 19 - were considered “limited” consumers of bottled waters, which means they drank on average .5 to 3.5 liters per week. Two participants drank more than 10 liters per week, and two said they never drank bottled water.

Despite a vague belief about increased healthfulness, most could not identify the health benefit. The most commonly given reason for purchasing bottled water was convenience. Many participants said they drank tap water at home, but purchased bottled water when they were out and about.

“Interestingly, while the majority of participants expressed the belief that bottled water has health benefits of some kind, paradoxically these same participants also stated that the health benefits of bottled water are negligible or nonexistent,” researchers write in the study. “This perhaps reflects confusion in the general public.”

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