A new study, published by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, has determined that more than fifty % of children in the United States suffer from dehydration. Drinking enough water is essential for physiological processes such as circulation, metabolism, temperature regulation, and waste removal. Although excessive dehydration is associated with serious health problems, even mild dehydration can cause issues, including headaches, irritability, poorer physical performance, and reduced cognitive functioning.
The American Journal of Public Health study analyzed the levels of hydration in youth and children, a situation that could have significant repercussions for their physical health and their cognitive and emotional functioning, according to the first national study of its kind from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
The participants included more than 4,000 children and adolescents aged 6 to 19 years who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, aged 6-19 years. The researchers used urine osmolality to determine and measure how concentrated a person’s urine is.
The research findings determined that racial/ethnic and gender gaps in hydration status. Black children and adolescents were at higher risk of inadequate hydration than whites; boys were at higher risk than girls.
“These findings are significant because they highlight a potential health issue that has not been given a whole lot of attention in the past,” said lead author Erica Kenney, a postdoctoral research fellow in the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences at Harvard Chan School. “Even though for most of these kids this is not an immediate, dramatic health threat, this is an issue that could really be reducing quality of life and well-being for many, many children and youth.”
“The good news is that this is a public health problem with a simple solution,” said senior author Steven Gortmaker, professor of the practice of health sociology. “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.”
Erica L. Kenney, Michael W. Long, Angie L. Cradock, Steven L. Gortmaker. Prevalence of Inadequate Hydration Among US Children and Disparities by Gender and Race/Ethnicity: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2009–2012. American Journal of Public Health, 2015; e1 DOI: 10.2105/AJPH.2015.302572