The Cheapest Drink is the Healthiest

Water intake among many Americans could improve and lead to health benefits

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D

(RxWiki News) One of the best substances in the world you can put into your body is usually the most accessible and cheapest: water. Yet many people often don't drink enough water.

A recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that nearly half of Americans drink less than four cups of water a day.

Drinking water instead of sweetened drinks or before meals can help reduce your calorie intake. Drinking water also helps with weight loss.

"Drink water instead of soda."

The study, led by Alyson B. Goodman, MD, MPH, of the Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, aimed to understand the water drinking habits of American adults.

The researchers used data from 3,397 adults who participated in a 2007 Food Attitudes and Behavior Survey conducted by the National Cancer Institute.

They focused specifically on those individuals who reported drinking less than four cups of water a day, which included 43.7 percent of the respondents.

The researchers found that 7 percent of the respondents to the survey reported not drinking any water at all each day. Just over a third, at 36 percent, reported drinking between one and three cups a day.

Also, just over a third of the participants, at 35 percent, reported drinking four to seven cups a day, and 22 percent reported drinking at least eight cups of water daily.

When the researchers investigated the demographics of those drinking less water each day, they found several patterns.

Participants aged 55 and older were 30 percent more likely to drink less than four cups a day than those aged 18 to 34. Northeasterners were also 40 percent more likely than Southerners to drink less than four cups of water daily.

Individuals were also less likely to drink much water if they did not exercise as much or if they did not eat as much fruit and vegetables each day.

Participants who ate only a cup or less of fruits and vegetables each day were three times more likely to drink less than four cups of water daily than those who ate at least four and a half cups of fruits and vegetables each day.

Those who did no daily exercise were 70 percent more likely to drink less than four cups a water a day than those who exercised at least two and a half hours a week.

Interestingly, patients who were not trying to lose or gain weight were also 30 percent more likely to drink less than four cups of a water a day than those who said they were trying to lose weight.

The authors noted that insufficient water and/or replacing water with other liquids can lead to health risks.

"Adequate water intake has health benefits and is essential for preventing dehydration; dehydration is associated with adverse health effects such as headache, urolithiasis, and impaired cognition," the authors wrote.

"Health risks (eg, dental caries, obesity) associated with intake of high levels of calorically sweetened beverages (eg, regular soda, fruit drinks, sports drinks) decrease when plain drinking water is substituted for these beverages," they wrote.

The authors also noted that drinking water before meals and instead of sweetened drinks results in lower calories consumed each day. Simply increasing water intake, they noted, could help with maintaining weight or weight loss.

The research was published online April 11 in the CDC publication Preventing Chronic Disease.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
April 11, 2013
Last Updated:
August 14, 2013