Some stories, like “How to Boost your Breakfast,” or “How Not to Overeat at a Buffet,” are evergreen pieces that provide nutrition news we can all use year through. But stories surrounding healthy hydration, particularly with water, are generally on the rise mostly in summer, when the temperatures climb. This assumes that we only need to replenish fluids when we sweat.
Hydration, however, is a hot topic on any given day for a host of well-known reasons, yet there’s one attribute of water that is critically important, yet often overlooked. Perhaps one of the greatest benefits of drinking water is not related to the virtues of this clear liquid, but instead, it’s about what we’re not drinking when we drink water.
A recent study published in JAMA Pediatrics showed that when water was made readily available through self-serve dispensers in school cafeterias, water often replaced high calorie, sugary beverages that may have otherwise been consumed at lunch time. Results showed that the percentage of overweight students at schools where the dispensers were installed dropped slightly, from 39 percent total to 38.1 percent for boys and 38.4 percent for girls.
Although this outcome may not seem staggering, it’s the implication of this study that is monumental. Statics tell us that one in three American kids and teens is overweight or obese. They are suffering from weight-related diseases like diabetes, hypertension and high blood pressure, years before these illnesses perhaps arrived for their parents and grandparents. Cutting out or trimming down a sugary beverage by substituting water not only adds a beverage with benefits to help meet the demands of hydration for a young, going body, but it also teaching a child about being responsible to make a smart decision.
Food shouldn’t be scary and children shouldn’t feel ‘punished’ by not having soda or sugary beverages. Although you may feel like the gatekeeper now, before you know it, your children will be making their own decisions about what appears on their plates. It’s invaluable to educate and empower your kids about how to take better care of their own bodies. A simple swap by ditching a sweetened beverage at breakfast, lunch, dinner or a snack and replacing it with still or sparkling bottled water or tap water could save thousands of calories a year.
This message is even more powerful when parents set examples for their children by making water their beverage of choice at home and when on the go. Like water, the advantages are clear.