Water Intake in Children – Too Little But Not Too Late

By: Dr. Robert Hackman

Most children in the United States fail to consume enough water, which could have alarming consequences.  Marginal dehydration has been linked to poor mental focus, function and motivation in children.  And if kids aren’t drinking water, they are more likely to be consuming sweetened beverages typically loaded with calories.  With a growing concern about childhood obesity and diabetes, water intake and healthy, low-sugar beverages may be two important choices for parents and children to promote and enjoy a healthy lifestyle.

A new study appearing in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (92:887-06, 2010) reports data from the National Health and Nutrition Education Survey.  Dietary data collected from 3,976 children between two and 19 years of age were analyzed for water intake and compared to the “Adequate Intake” levels of water established by the US Institute of Medicine. All children except those two to three years old failed to consume the recommended amount of water.  Girls were less likely to meet their goals compared to boys.  On average, children ages two to five drank 1.4 liters (~6 cups) of water per day those ages six to 11 drank 1.6 liters  (~6.8 cups) and adolescents ages 12 to 19 drank 1.9 liters (8 cups) per day.

In addition to plain water, other sources of water can be from food and non-nutritive beverages (e.g., high in sugar and devoid of any meaningful amounts of vitamins or minerals.)  Interestingly, children and adolescents who consumed the most water also tended to make the most nutritious food choices.  The researchers also reported that most beverages were consumed with main meals and urged parents to recognize the importance of replacing nonnutritive beverages at meal times with plain water.

For fluid intake between meals, people of all ages often tend to enjoy beverages that are flavored.  Too often, these drinks tend to be loaded with calories, and lacking important vitamins or minerals.  Helping children and adolescents choose nutrient-dense beverages can certainly help fulfill their water needs.  In this regard, AdvoCare’s Rehydrate drink mix comes in several great tasting flavors and is an excellent source of key nutrients such as potassium and magnesium.

Finally, fluid intake is a family affair, and as with most nutrition practices, children learn from adults.  If parents drink lots of sugary beverages, children will do so as well.  So it is vital that adults model healthy behaviors to their children by consuming plain water or nutritive beverages and offering the same to their children.



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