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New study shows children aren't drinking enough water

Tanvier Peart is a happy wife, mom of two little boys, writer and creative director who loves working out...and a good cupcake. Hailing from Baltimore, Maryland, her family now calls the Oklahoma City area home, and embraces sweet tea in...

A lack of proper hydration can cause serious health risks

No matter how many substitutions companies try to sell, nothing compares to good ol' H2O. Water is such an accessible resource here in the U.S., and yet it remains underutilized.

On average, how much water do you drink on a daily basis? Do you consume the recommended 9 to 13 cups?

According to a new study, your children are more than likely falling short in this category.

The Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health reveals that more than half of adolescents and children in the United States aren't hydrated due to lack of water intake. "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," said Erica Kenney, lead author and research fellow at the Harvard Chan School. "These findings are significant because they highlight a potential health issue that has not been given a whole lot of attention in the past."

Boys in particular are 76 percent more likely than girls to not drink an adequate amount of water. Black children and adolescents are also at higher risk of not being hydrated. The study comes from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey that monitored 4,000 children ages 6 to 19 for three years.

It's no secret that water is an essential part of life. The Mayo Clinic points out health benefits like flushing out toxins from your system and transporting nutrients to your cells that come from drinking enough water. The proper amount of nourishment can lead to a long and healthy life, while the lack of water has been known to cause mild dehydration and other problems — including poor cognitive functioning and metabolism issues.

As parents, it's very easy to throw a juice pack or can of soda into our child's lunch bag as we rush out the door. They're quite convenient and a tasty favorite among kids. Unfortunately too much of a good thing can be problematic and make getting back on track a difficult journey.

It took me many years to drink an adequate amount of water. When I was growing up, my parents were divorced and always seemed on the go. Like most children, I would drink what was available but always seemed to shy away from water. It was tasteless and not a mandatory requirement at the dinner table. As the years went on — and I got older — I noticed many people around me developing health problems due to a lack of water intake. This really inspired me to make changes in my life that in turn have influenced the importance of water in my own home.

One of the best ways for children to understand the importance of drinking water is to start sooner than later. My 16-month-old prefers it over juice because we don't allow him to overindulge in anything else — especially sugary and caffeinated beverages. Parents can also establish "house rules" that allow kids to drink one or two non-water beverages a day. I've heard of some offering weekly incentives to the child who drinks the most water as a way to get them excited.

No matter what you do, it's important to get your family drinking more water.

WTKR 3 News notes kids ages 1 to 3 need at least 4 cups of water a day, and children ages 4 to 8 should drink 5 cups. "Children don't have a highly developed thirst mechanism, so they're especially vulnerable to becoming dehydrated," says Dianne Ward, a professor and director of the Intervention and Policy Division. "So parents need to remind their children to drink water."

"If we can focus on helping children drink more water — a low-cost, no-calorie beverage — we can improve their hydration status, which may allow many children to feel better throughout the day and do better in school," adds Steven Gortmaker, a professor and senior author. "The good news is that this is a public health problem with a simple solution."

More on water

Kids, drink up!
Eat, drink, poop: Teaching kids about health
Why water is the best-kept beauty secret

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