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Study Raises Concerns Regarding Under-Hydrated Youth Of America

Dehydration is linked with both physical and mental health problems

According to a research conducted at the Harvard University School of Public Health a significant part of US children and teenagers do not drink enough water. Recent reports raise concerns since under-hydrated youth can experience both physical and mental problems. More detail about the research can be found in the American Journal of Public Health.

This research is the first one which analyzes the hydration in the case of youth all over the US. The team of researchers observed 4.000 participants which included teens and children with ages between six and 19 year old during the period of time between 2009 and 2012. The investigators also took into account the gender, the ethnicity and the race of the participants.

For the study the researchers used urine osmolality, which is a test that measures the concentration of a person’s urine. This indicates the hydration level. The lead author of the study, postdoctoral researcher Erica Kenny from the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences (Harvard’s Chan School) explained that if one gets a lower number in the test it means that the individual is well hydrated, whereas a higher number indicates that one is under-hydrated. In other words light-colored urine is linked with good hydration, whereas intense-colored urine is a sign that you should drink more fluids.

The findings of the study indicated that only a bit over half of the American children and teenagers were adequately hydrated, whereas the rest were under-hydrated youth. According to the research boys were 76 percent less likely to drink water than girls. Non-Hispanic black youth were 34 percent less likely to consume enough water than non-Hispanic white participants.

Erica Kenney commented on the findings on the study:

“These findings are significant because they highlight a potential health issue that has not been given a whole lot of attention in the past. 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.”

One of the leading experts also remarked that children and teenagers more prone to dehydration than adults because they have a slower acclimation to heat.  Dr. Ron Marino from the Winthrop-University Hospital (Mineola) said that at school children may have limited access to water or they might be embarrassed to use the bathrooms because of the lack of privacy. In addition, according to him, the food industry also plays a role in the increasing number of under-dehydrated youth because bottled drinks are made to appear more attractive to children, who are no longer interested in simple water fountains.



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