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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.
Andy Samberg and Cristin Milioti get stuck in an infinite wedding time loop.
- Two wedding guests discover they're trapped in an infinite time loop, waking up in Palm Springs over and over and over.
- As the reality of their situation sets in, Nyles and Sarah decide to enjoy the repetitive awakenings.
- The film is perfectly timed for a world sheltering at home during a pandemic.
China moves to Russia and India takes over Canada. The Swiss get Bangladesh, the Bangladeshi India. And the U.S.? It stays where it is.
What if the world were rearranged so that the inhabitants of the country with the largest population would move to the country with the largest area? And the second-largest population would migrate to the second-largest country, and so on?
A recent analysis of a 76-million-year-old Centrosaurus apertus fibula confirmed that dinosaurs suffered from cancer, too.
- The fibula was originally discovered in 1989, though at the time scientists believed the damaged bone had been fractured.
- After reanalyzing the bone, and comparing it with fibulas from a human and another dinosaur, a team of scientists confirmed that the dinosaur suffered from the bone cancer osteosarcoma.
- The study shows how modern techniques can help scientists learn about the ancient origins of diseases.
Centrosaurus apertus fibula
Royal Ontario Museum<p>In the recent study, the team used a combination of techniques to analyze the fibula, including taking CT scans, casting the bone and studying thin slices of it under a microscope. The analysis suggested that the dinosaur likely suffered from osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer that affects modern humans, typically young adults.</p><p>For further evidence, the team compared the damaged fibula to a healthy fibula from a dinosaur of the same species, and also to a fibula that belonged to a 19-year-old human who suffered from osteosarcoma. Both comparisons supported the osteosarcoma diagnosis.</p>
Evans et al.<p style="margin-left: 20px;">"The shin bone shows aggressive cancer at an advanced stage," Evans said in a <a href="https://www.rom.on.ca/en/about-us/newsroom/press-releases/rare-malignant-cancer-diagnosed-in-a-dinosaur" target="_blank">press release</a>. "The cancer would have had crippling effects on the individual and made it very vulnerable to the formidable tyrannosaur predators of the time."</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"The fact that this plant-eating dinosaur lived in a large, protective herd may have allowed it to survive longer than it normally would have with such a devastating disease."</p><p>The fossilized fibula was originally unearthed in a bonebed alongside the remains of dozens of other <em>Centrosaurus </em><em>apertus</em>, suggesting the dinosaur didn't die from cancer, but from a flood that swept it away with its herd.</p>
Dinosaur fibula; the tumor mass is depicted in yellow.
Royal Ontario Museum/McMaster University<p>The new study highlights how modern techniques can help scientists learn more about the evolutionary origins of modern diseases, like cancer. It also shows that dinosaurs suffered through some of the same terrestrial afflictions humans face today.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Dinosaurs can seem like mythical creatures, but they were living, breathing animals that suffered through horrible injuries and diseases," Evans said, "and this discovery certainly makes them more real and helps bring them to life in that respect."</p>
Join the lauded author of Range in conversation with best-selling author and poker pro Maria Konnikova!
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