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.