About Shaun Riebl, MS, RD

Shaun K. Riebl, MS, RD PhD Student Virginia Tech Dept of Human Nutrition, Foods and Exercise (0430) Water INTERface: Interdisciplinary Graduate Education Program (IGEP) Laboratory for Eating Behaviors and Weight Management 229 Wallace Hall Blacksburg, VA 24061 email: sriebl@vt.edu

If you’re looking to lose, drink up.

A recent review by Dr. Rebecca Muckelbauer and colleagues from the Berlin School of Public Health has received attention from the press about a highly questioned issue: does drinking water affect weight outcomes in adults? Or put more simply, will drinking water help you lose weight?


Image Source: http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photos-glass-water-tape-measure-image3812033

Dr. Muckelbauer and her peers performed a systematic review, which included 11 studies, three of which came out of  our Water INTERface director’s (Dr. Brenda Davy) lab. Specifically, one study by Dennis and others, on which Dr. Davy was the principle investigator, provided some solid evidence to assist Dr. Muckelbauer’s group in developing their review.

The study by Dr. Elizabeth Dennis, currently a post doctoral fellow at Georgetown University Medical Center’s Office of Minority Health and Health Disparities Research and a graduate from VT and past student of Dr. Davy’s, found that after 12 weeks drinking about two cups of water before each meal was correlated with a greater decrease in weight after 12 weeks versus restricting calories alone. Another publication included in the systematic review was an extension of Dennis and colleagues’ work looking into how self monitoring of weight, fruit and vegetable intake, and water consumption may influence long-term weight maintenance. The lead author for this study was Dr. Jeremy Akers, also a VT alumni and prior member of Dr. Davy’s lab and now an assistant professor at JMU.

Image Source: http://fitsystemsatx.com/2012/12/water-vs-coke/

Studies in Dr. Muckelbauer and associate’s review that examined water intake in individuals who were not primarily dieting or trying to maintain weight were found to show inconsistent results, but this may be due to study design. Overall, the review’s authors concluded that studies examining increased water intake in those dieting or trying to maintain weight imply that more water is better. However, they highlight the need for more thorough studies on this topic before definitive associations can be made.

With the summer months upon us, this study draws attention to one clear notion: Fill ‘er up and drink up…WATER that is.

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.

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.

Image source: http://www.tastemakermag.com/fasting-like-daniel/

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.

Image source: http://www.teluguone.com/vanitha/content/drinking-water-for-weight-loss-74-7653.html

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?

Texas water plant making wastewater tasty through reclamation.

Image source: http://www.energytrendsinsider.com/2009/05/08/9-steps-to-making-your-green-brand-sustainable-and-relevant/

A recent article on Water/Waste Processing Magazine’s website highlights how the Big Springs Water Treatment Plant in Western Texas is using water reclamation to provide clean, drinkable water to residents in four neighboring cities. The Colorado River Municipal Water District provides 40 million gallons of water to 500 thousand people comprising the aforementioned cities, and the Big Spring water reclamation process will contribute 2 million gallons. Not a huge amount, but anything can help especially with the summer months approaching.

Water reclamation is a type of, in simplistic terms, water recycling similar to greywater. One of the main distinctions is that reclamation cleans sewer, or toilet, water for reuse. Sounds worrisome and, possibly downright nasty, but don’t fret. Like in Big Springs, TX, many measures are taken to guarantee that the water is fit for human use. Even astronauts use something similar when in space to obtain pure drinking water. Another difference is that reclamation uses bacteria, or biological means, to purify water of sludge and particles.

Image source: http://shashabee.blogspot.com/2012_08_01_archive.html


The Big Springs Plant, which will utilize nearby lakes to assist with the reclamation process, is similar to what has been seen in California, Arizona, and other countries according to the Water/Waste Processing article. The hopes are that other cities in Texas and across the nation will also construct such plants to deal with the increasing demands and potential shortages of water in our own backyards.

Would you drink purified water from your toilet? What if you already have? Do you believe its the responsibility of the local government to inform the public if a water reclamation project got underway in your hometown?

Revamped school in VA is tackling childhood obesity and making water a part of it.

Childhood overweight and obesity concerns are nothing new; however, one school in Buckingham County, VA took a whole different approach and remodeled their elementary school to promote healthy eating and physical activity, reports Lisa Stark from ABC news. Check out this video about the design and thought process behind it:

The ABC write up provides some details about the cafeteria layout and highlights how water fountains are conspicuous and contain colorful signs touting its health benefits. Anisha Patel, who recently spoke at a HNFE seminar, and her colleagues at the University of California San Francisco recommend similar strategies to increase children’s water consumption. They also found that other tactics, like providing students and faculty with disposable water bottles, having filtered, cold water available, and offering water-related education materials and activities, can increase intake of water among children.

Dr. Elena Serrano, a HNFE professor and faculty member of the Water INTERface program who does research with on childhood obesity, believes that Buckingham County’s innovative strategy has pros and cons. She thinks “[t]he most disparate school divisions probably cannot afford a school like this” and that the cost of such a venture may be a barrier. However, Dr. Serrano highlights that the approach “[h]elps create a social norm around the value of food and nutrition, [i]mproves food preparation and culinary skills and ideally increases physical activity.”

Would you like to see these efforts in Blacksburg schools? How do you think the dining halls on Tech’s campus address healthy eating?

Revamped school in VA is tackling childhood obesity and making water a part of it.

Childhood overweight and obesity concerns are nothing new; however, one school in Buckingham County, VA took a whole different approach and remodeled their elementary school to promote healthy eating and physical activity, reports Lisa Stark from ABC news. Check out this video about the design and thought process behind it: The ABC write up provides [...]

Water and kidneys: Drink up!

A recent cross-sectional analysis of NHANES (i.e. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey) data from 2005-2006 showed that consuming more water could prevent the development of chronic kidney disease.

Image source: http://science.howstuffworks.com/life/human-biology/kidney.htm

In chronic kidney disease (CKD) the kidneys become damaged and cannot sufficiently filter blood, allowing toxins to build up and cause other problems like bone disease, anemia, and cardiovascular disease. According to the CDC, approximately 1 in 10 Americans have CKD and the primary risk factors for developing CKD are diabetes and hypertension (i.e. high blood pressure). Someone with decreased kidney function may not know it since symptoms aren’t apparent until it progresses to more severe levels. A blood test called the glomerular filtration rate (GFR) provides an estimate of how well your kidneys are working and kidney disease is staged according to GFR numbers:

Image source: http://www.kidney.org/professionals/kdoqi/guidelines_ckd/Gif_File/kck_t10.gif

Image source: http://www.kidney.org/professionals/kdoqi/guidelines_ckd/Gif_File/kck_t10.gif

The recent analysis, which included almost 3,500 adults, split up participants into three groups according to their water intake from both foods and beverages: <2 liters/day, 2-4.3 liters/day, and >4.3 liters/day. The <2 liter/day group had the highest amount of people with GFR levels between 30 and 60, indicating stage 3 CKD. Additionally, CKD was correlated with low intakes of plain water and not other beverages.

Image source: http://www.3pk.ca/


The results from this study provide another opportunity to recognize how important water consumption is to our health. Maybe CKD can now be added to the growing list of diseases and conditions that have been suggested to be reduced with water consumption.

Drinking Water Week: May 5th-11th

Image source: http://www.awwa.org/Portals/0/files/resources/public%20affairs/images/2013DWWColorLogo400x220.jpg

For about the past 35 years the American Water Works Association has been celebrating Drinking Water Week. This year its May5th to 11th.  The AWWA’s website describes the event as “a unique opportunity for both water professionals and the communities they serve to join together in recognizing the vital role water plays in our daily lives.” So this next week drink up and celebrate!

Our own Amanda Sain honored as outstanding graduate student.


Congratulations to Amanda Sain for receiving the honor of being named an outstanding master’s degree student by the Virginia Tech Graduate School.

Amanda’s research is focused on the intersection of water quality and air quality with an emphasis on aqueous inorganic constituents, specifically Manganese. She has a passion for looking into where water and public health intersect so that drinking water continues to be safe and accessible.