from the world's big
Amid obesity epidemic, many American kids are still ditching water
A new research letter points to another reason for childhood obesity.
- A research letter, published in JAMA Pediatrics, notes that one out of every five children (ages 2–19) do not drink water on any given day.
- Children that replace water with sugar-sweetened beverages drink twice as many calories.
- Researchers note that this is a factor in childhood obesity, type 2 diabetes, fatty liver disease, and other avoidable ailments.
An old friend of mine never drank water — ever — a fact I didn't notice until she pointed it out one day. We often DJ'd together, meaning that we'd be in the club until 4 am. Sure, there was alcohol, but generally she didn't drink much of that either. She simply didn't drink.
Except coffee. That was the only liquid she put into her body during the course of the day. "It's made of water," she'd laugh. She wasn't incorrect. But to not drink water, at all? Even more surprisingly, one of her clients was Smartwater. She had boxes of product in her apartment. Until this week, I believed her to be an outlier.
I was wrong.
A new research letter, published in JAMA Pediatrics on April 20, discovered that one out of every five adolescents and teenagers do not drink water on any given day. The letter, covering 2011–16, was constructed using data from the National Health and Examination Survey. Over 8,000 youth, aged two to 19, were involved in the survey.
Not drinking water is bad enough, but a bigger problem is what they replaced it with: sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs). While my friend had to contend with caffeine withdrawal, these children are dealing with something far more serious: obesity. Children who don't drink water consume twice as many calories as those that do.
The Importance Of Drinking Water For Children
The average calories consumed through beverages by all the participants was 132 per day. For those that reported drinking water as well, the number was 112 calories; for those replacing water with juices, caloric content jumps to 210. The survey relied on 24-hour recall by the participants; younger children were assisted by their parents.
Lead author of the study, Asher Rosinger, from the Department of Biobehavioral Health at Penn State, says that this, in part, is driving the obesity epidemic among adolescents and teens.
"What you have to remember is that an extra 3,500 calories equals one pound of weight gain. So if you're not compensating for those extra calories, then over a month, you can potentially gain a pound."
It's not only weight gain. Two-year-olds are coming to the pediatrician with fatty liver disease; teens with type 2 diabetes. Other noted problems from drinking too many SSBs include dental issues and high cholesterol. Given that the foods we consume during youth tend to become "comfort foods" as we age, this is a rough beginning to what will likely be an unhealthy life.
A baby plays with mobile phone while his twin brother drinks juice as they attend the children's Festival Of Twins, in Kiev, on August 11, 2018. (Photo by Sergei Supinsky / AFP / Getty Images)
Water remains the healthiest beverage imaginable. Among its benefits:
- Maintenance and balance of body fluids
- Controls calorie intake
- Energizes muscles
- Hydrates and protects skin
- Helps transport waste products out of cells
- Maintains normal bowel function
The study skewed along racial lines as well. Non-water-drinking white children consumed the most calories on average (237), with black youth coming in second (218) and Latino children last (176) — which, for health reasons, is really first. That said, the economics of access to clean drinking water is a concern that the authors entertain.
Systemic problems, such as water problems (à la Flint) need to be addressed. As Rosinger notes, contamination "is a growing problem in the U.S., so we need to keep that in mind as important context, especially when it comes to parents who may be giving their kids soda or juice because they distrust the water. Therefore, it's critical to ensure that everyone has access to safe, clean water."
Of course, experts warn against replacing water with sweetened drinks, but that's just common sense. Given that water is an elemental foundation of biological life, the lion's share of the blame falls on parents. We all need liquid to survive. Offer children water. Cut out the sweets. Some problems are complex while others simply are not.
Join multiple Tony and Emmy Award-winning actress Judith Light live on Big Think at 2 pm ET on Monday.
Construction of the $500 billion dollar tech city-state of the future is moving ahead.
- The futuristic megacity Neom is being built in Saudi Arabia.
- The city will be fully automated, leading in health, education and quality of life.
- It will feature an artificial moon, cloud seeding, robotic gladiators and flying taxis.
The Red Sea area where Neom will be built:
Saudi Arabia Plans Futuristic City, "Neom" (Full Promotional Video)<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="c646d528d230c1bf66c75422bc4ccf6f"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/N53DzL3_BHA?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
Frequent shopping for single items adds to our carbon footprint.
- A new study shows e-commerce sites like Amazon leave larger greenhouse gas footprints than retail stores.
- Ordering online from retail stores has an even smaller footprint than going to the store yourself.
- Greening efforts by major e-commerce sites won't curb wasteful consumer habits. Consolidating online orders can make a difference.
A pile of recycled cardboard sits on the ground at Recology's Recycle Central on January 4, 2018 in San Francisco, California.
Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images<p>A large part of the reason is speed. In a competitive market, pure players use the equation, <em>speed + convenience</em>, to drive adoption. This is especially relevant to the "last mile" GHG footprint: the distance between the distribution center and the consumer.</p><p>Interestingly, the smallest GHG footprint occurs when you order directly from a physical store—even smaller than going there yourself. Pure players, such as Amazon, are the greatest offenders. Variables like geographic location matter; the team looked at shopping in the UK, the US, China, and the Netherlands. </p><p>Sadegh Shahmohammadi, a PhD student at the Netherlands' Radboud University and corresponding author of the paper, <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2020/02/26/tech/greenhouse-gas-emissions-retail/index.html" target="_blank">says</a> the above "pattern holds true in countries where people mostly drive. It really depends on the country and consumer behavior there."</p><p>The researchers write that this year-and-a-half long study pushes back on previous research that claims online shopping to be better in terms of GHG footprints.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"They have, however, compared the GHG emissions per shopping event and did not consider the link between the retail channels and the basket size, which leads to a different conclusion than that of the current study."</p><p>Online retail is where convenience trumps environment: people tend to order one item at a time when shopping on pure player sites, whereas they stock up on multiple items when visiting a store. Consumers will sometimes order a number of separate items over the course of a week rather than making one trip to purchase everything they need. </p><p>While greening efforts by online retailers are important, until a shift in consumer attitude changes, the current carbon footprint will be a hard obstacle to overcome. Amazon is trying to have it both ways—carbon-free and convenience addicted—and the math isn't adding up. If you need to order things, do it online, but try to consolidate your purchases as much as possible.</p><p>--</p><p><em>Stay in touch with Derek on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/derekberes" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/DerekBeresdotcom" target="_blank">Facebook</a> and <a href="https://derekberes.substack.com/" target="_blank">Substack</a>. His next book is</em> "<em>Hero's Dose: The Case For Psychedelics in Ritual and Therapy."</em></p>
Chronic irregular sleep in children was associated with psychotic experiences in adolescence, according to a recent study out of the University of Birmingham's School of Psychology.