Teen Hydration Runs Dry: More Than Half Aren’t Drinking Enough Water
Come summertime, kids and teens likely spend more time swimming in water than drinking it, but recent studies suggest that it’s time to reverse this trend. A report from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health revealed that adolescent hydration levels are surprisingly shallow.
Using data provided in the National Health and Nutrition Survey from 2009-2012, researchers calculated the frequency of inadequate hydration in participants ages 6-19 and found that 54.5 percent of children and teens aren’t drinking enough fluids.
Lead researcher Erica Kenney explains why these results are problematic:
“This doesn't mean we're saying kids are dropping like flies or that they're very seriously dehydrated and need to go to the hospital or anything like that. But even mild dehydration can affect children's fatigue levels, mood and possibly their ability to learn.”
To check for mild dehydration in your teen, keep an eye out for symptoms like dry skin and mouth, headaches, sleepiness, and light-headedness. Teens can also determine their own hydration levels by checking the color of their urine. (Sounds gross, but it's true!) The lighter the color, the more hydrated the teen.
According to Healthy Kids, teens should drink about six glasses of water every day, and even more in circumstances of physical activity and heat. But while drinking liquids (specifically water) is the best way to hydrate, it’s not the only way. Soup and high-water-content fruits and vegetables, like grapefruit and cucumber, also contribute to total fluid intake.
The key to getting kids to take in more water is quite simple: Make it accessible. A new bottle or a cool dispenser can work wonders in getting adolescents to drink up!