Sociodemographics and tap water intake: what’s the connection?

A study conducted by our recent seminar guest Dr. Anisha Patel and colleagues  has found associations between race/ethnicity, gender, age, language, and education and tap water intake in children and adolescents. This is the first national study in youth to consider sociodemographic traits of tap water consumption.

Underrepresented children and adolescents were found to consume less tap water versus their white counterparts. More specifically, Spanish speaking adolescents were found to drink less tap water potentially substantiating the claim that they may consider tap water to contain pollutants found in their home country’s water supply.

Although no differences were observed between tap water consumers and nonconsumers in weight and sugar-sweetened beverage intake, tap water consumers drank more overall fluid and water than non-tap water consumers. However, no groups met the Institute of Medicine’s water intake recommendation of ~7-11 cups of water per day for those aged 9-18 years.

The results from this investigation highlight the need for education at the community level on the financial and health benefits of consuming tap water. Underserved populations and the public in general can benefit from consistent reminders about the importance water consumption in place of other calorically-dense beverages in order to promote health and longevity. Dr. Patel concludes that having culturally sensitive means to promote water consumption may help avert the negative health outcomes associated with low water intake in underrepresented ethnicities.

AMA Recognizes Obesity as a Disease

The American Medial Association, the nation’s largest physician group, has officially recognized obesity as a disease. This declaration could cause physicians to take greater care in treating those with the disease as well as inspire insurance companies to reconsider paying for weight loss treatments.

This decision was controversial for several reasons. One of the main concerns was that BMI is used to diagnose the disease, a measurement the article called “simplistic and flawed.” Concurrently, the AMA has no legal authority and further, there is not a universal agreement of what constitutes a disease in the first place.

One of the best comparisons stated in the article was: “the suggestion that obesity is not a disease but rather a consequence of a chosen lifestyle exemplified by overeating and/or inactivity is equivalent to suggesting that lung cancer is not a disease because it was brought about by individual choice to smoke cigarettes.”

Find the article here:


What’s your attitude? Does your diet and exercise sway your drinking choices?

What do your health and diet behaviors say about your water intake? A study using data from the National Cancer Institute’s Food Attitudes and Behaviors Survey found that certain diet and health behaviors were associated with water intake.

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Of the 3200+ respondents only about 60% drank 4 cups of water per day. This equates to approximately 32 ounces and falls well below the Institute of Medicine’s fluid recommendations of 13 cups for men and 9 cups for women over the age of 19.

Other factors associated with low water consumption were eating less than 4.5 cups of fruits and vegetable per day, being 55 years of age or older, and not engaging in 150 minutes or more of physical activity per week (the current national recommendation). Researchers also found greater odds of low water intake were related to eating fast food more than one time a week and recalling eating fruits and vegetables less than one time per day while growing up.

Additionally, those who agreed or were indifferent to the statement “what I eat doesn’t really affect my health,” replied “not at all/a little” or “somewhat” to the query “How often has worrying about your health led you to change what you ate in the past year?” and who felt “…meals should include meat” had higher odds for lower water intake.

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Do you feel as though how much you eat fruits or vegetable or hit up the fast food restaurants influence your choosing of water versus other beverages? Does exercise (or lack thereof) lead you to reach for a gulp or soda or a swig of water?

A New Graduate Seminar Course in Global Change

A new seminar course has been added to the graduate curriculum at Virginia Tech.  Open to all PhD students from across campus, FIW 5004: Global Change Seminar will be conducted as a brown bag discussion of primary literature on how major threats to global biodiversity interact to affect the environment and how science can inform public policy to influence these interactions.  Students will be required to read and discuss primary literature with their peers and the IGC Faculty each week.

This one credit seminar will be offered annually each fall semester. During Fall 2013, the class will meet on Mondays from 5:30-7:00 p.m., in 311 Latham Hall.

Click here to download the flyer (PDF).