About The Buzz: Kids Aren’t Drinking Enough Water?

August 19, 2015

TheBUZZ Kids Aren’t Drinking Enough Water?


Over 50% of kids in the United States aren’t drinking enough water.


A recent study, published in the American Journal of Public Health, reported that over half of American kids are inadequately hydrated.1 The study, which included over 4,000 youth ages 6-19 from the National Health and Examination Survey, evaluated urine osmolality between 2009-2012. Urine samples were used to determine children’s hydration levels in this study. Urine osmolality determines hydration by measuring the amount of solute particles contained in each kilogram of urine. A higher level of urine osmolality indicates dehydration. Think of it this way: when making lemonade, there’s an ideal balance between the lemonade drink mix and the water. The more mix that gets added to the water, the more concentrated and sweet the lemonade becomes.

Urine samples revealed that half of the youth in the study (54.4%) were dehydrated. In fact, nearly a quarter of the study participants said they drank no plain water at all. Boys were more likely to be dehydrated than girls, which may be due to the fact that boys are more physically active from a young age. Younger children were also less likely to be adequately hydrated. Moisture intake from foods (such as fruits and vegetables, which are mainly comprised of water) only contributed to 21% water intake.


Adequate hydration is essential to the body’s physiological functions. Examples include circulation, temperature regulation and waste removal. Even mild levels of dehydration can lead to side effects that negatively impact health and wellbeing: headaches, irritability, poorer physical performance and reduced cognitive functioning arise in both children and adults.

Hydration’s impact on cognitive performance cannot be ignored. Studies have shown dehydration in children is associated with poorer performance on cognitive tests.2,3 When dehydrated, children may have more difficulty concentrating, leading to higher levels of disengagement and retention of materials covered in the classroom. Adequate hydration is essential to optimal performance, meaningful friendships and physical performance during recess and sporting events. Concerned your child may be dehydrated? Learn to Recognize the Signs and Symptoms of Dehydration


The U.S. Institute of Medicine suggests healthy 4- to 8-year old children need about 7.5 cups of fluid per day, while 9- to 13-year old children and 14- to 18-year-old females need about 10 cups. Males 14 to 18 years of age need about 14 cups.4 In order for children to thrive, they need to be hydrated! Be sure to pack a reusable water bottle with your child on their way out the door each day. Serve water with ever meal and snack, in addition to leaving cups of water easily within reach throughout the day.


1 Erica L. Kenney, Michael W. Long, Angie L. Cradock, et al. 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: August 2015, Vol. 105, No. 8, pp. e113-e118.

2 Y Bar-David, J Urkin, E Kozminsky. The effect of voluntary dehydration on cognitive functions of elementary school children. Acta Paediatr. 2005;94(11):1667–1673.

3 R Fadda, G Rapinett, D Grathwol, et al. Effects of drinking supplementary water at school on cognitive performance in children. Appetite. 2012;59(3):730–737.

4 Hydration Considerations for Children. The Beverage Institute for Health and Wellness (2015). View

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