Most or 83 percent of Filipino kids are not drinking enough water to keep them hydrated and healthy. This is the alarming finding of a study on hydration by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute of the Department of Science and Technology.
Experts reveal dehydration starts as soon as a person feels parched or thirsty.
“Misconceptions are the major barriers to proper hydration, especially in countries like the Philippines,” says Dr. Rodolfo F. Florentino, one of the preeminent nutrition experts in the country.
He adds, “While under normal conditions, adults can satisfy their water needs with the sensation of thirst, this is not the case in young children and the elderly when thirst comes late, and they are dependent upon others for their hydration needs. This is also not the case in conditions where fluid requirement is greatly increased, as in heavy physical activity or in very hot environments.”
This means when the weather is hot or kids are being active they are more in danger of being dehydrated.
Effects of dehydration
Dehydration of as little as 2 percent of body weight already has tangible negative effects on kids, including their alertness and concentration. It may show itself through dry lips and mouth and dark-colored urine, but its deeper effects are a cause for concern.
In the long term, dehydration may even slow down their physical and mental performance. This might cause a drop in kids’ performance in school, their strength during playtime and sports, and even their willingness to interact with other children.
If not solved immediately, dehydration may lead to chronic dehydration, which increases the risk of the development of kidney stones, UTI, hypertension, and even eventually a stroke.
It takes more than 8 glasses of water
The eight glasses of water a day rule does not actually apply to everyone. Individuals may need more depending on age or physical activity levels.
Schoolchildren 6-9 years old should drink five to six glasses of water a day, while children 10-12 years old should drink at least seven glasses of water daily. Male teenagers 13-15 years old should drink nine glasses a day, while girls should consume seven glasses daily. Finally, males aged 16-18 should drink 10 glasses of water a day, while females should consume eight glasses daily.
These figures are subject to other condition including weather and amount of physical activity.
The taste of water and the habit of drinking it is not always appetizing to kids, making it a difficult task for them to drink water. But according to Dr. Florentino parents may opt to supplement it with other water sources.
“Water is not the only source of hydration. The food and different beverages that we take every day are also important sources of water in addition to plain drinking water to help the body rehydrate,” he explains.
“Milk and dairy-based beverages, fruit juice, fruit-flavored drinks—especially when fortified with vitamins and minerals; soups; fruits like watermelon, melon, and strawberries; and vegetables like lettuce, cabbage, and spinach contain 90-99 percent water.
“Fruits like apple, grapes, oranges, and pineapple contain 80-89 percent water. All of these could be used to rehydrate. In fact, on the average about 20 percent of our total water intake comes from food, and 80 percent comes from drinking water and beverages.”
Raising awareness of kid dehydration
In cooperation with FNRI, powdered juice brand Tang has recently launched the #UhawAreYou campaign to increase awareness of the hydration gap in the Philippines and how it can be solved.
#UhawAreYou encourages parents to check on their kids’ state of hydration and take measures to make sure their child takes the right amount of fluids possible through various ways.
Often, Tang says, kids enter into a state of “voluntary dehydration,” where they give up drinking water while they are busy playing or being active. Other times, kids are simply uninterested in water, and would rather drink something that tastes more interesting.
“The first step is raising awareness that we are not drinking enough—that we have a hydration gap problem especially among Filipino kids. Imagine eight out of 10 kids are not drinking the required number of glasses! Also, we have to let parents know the serious effects of dehydration to children. This will encourage them to keep their kids (and themselves) hydrated through different ways,” shares Tang Philippines brand manager Princess Landicho.
To make the campaign more relatable to mothers and parents, Tang has also partnered with celebrity mom Bianca Gonzalez-Intal who is known for not shying away from relevant issues.”
As a mom, she has also experienced having a hard time making her toddler drink enough fluids. When asked about how she works around the problem, she said, “I literally have to chase my daughter to drink! I have to find the perfect glass that she would drink most with, which was this colorful straw tumbler. As a mom, you just have to find out what works for your kids and stay patient!”
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