Many children need to drink more water: study

Cambridge, MA – The majority of children and adolescents are not adequately hydrated, according to a recent study from Harvard University.

Researchers analyzed data from more than 4,000 children and adolescents 6 to 19 years old who took part in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Slightly more than half of all children and adolescents were inadequately hydrated. Boys were 76 percent more likely than girls to be improperly hydrated.

Inadequate hydration among young people can cause health problems and reduced cognitive functioning, researchers said. Mild or excessive dehydration can result from not drinking enough water. Mild hydration can cause headaches and irritability along with reduced physical and cognitive performance. Excessive dehydration can cause more serious problems.

“The good news is that this is a public health problem with a simple solution,” senior author and Harvard professor Steven Gortmaker said in a press release. “If we can focus on helping children drink more water – a low-cost, no-calorie beverage – we can improve their hydration status, which may allow many children to feel better throughout the day and do better in school.”

The study was published online June 11 in the American Journal of Public Health.