Water Intake Recommendations for Children and Teens

Water Intake Recommendations for Children and Teens

Canadians of all ages are not drinking enough water

Canadians of all ages are not drinking enough water

A recent study published in 2019 presented results that an astounding 20% of the children in the U.S. don’t drink tap or bottled water every day. Author of the study, Asher Rosinger, PhD, Director of the Water, Health and Nutrition Laboratory at Pennsylvania State University, states “Kids should be drinking water every day because water is the healthiest.” (Source: WebMD, Not Just One Reason Kids Don’t Drink Enough Water),  In Canada, it’s not much better. This 2012 CBC article Canadians Not Drinking Enough Water reveals a very similar issue.

The latest research from Rosinger was a study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Pediatrics in April 2019 where 8,400 children and teens in the US revealed what they consumed and drank during a 24-hour time period. The startling results showed that 20% of children are not drinking water on a given day. Furthermore, instead of water they were more likely to ingest sugary drinks instead of water which increases the risk of obesity in children.

The same goes for Canadian children. In the CBC article, a survey released for Nestle Waters Canada before this article was written, 45% of Canadians drink four or more beverages that are not water per day, with 22% admitting that their children drink fruit juices more often than water. Also, 55% said their children ingest only one to three glasses of water per day which is astounding considering 26% or 1.6 million children in Canada at that time were considered obese. (Source: ParentsCanada, June 2012) According to the Government of Canada website article Chilhood Obesity, in the last thirty years, obesity rates among youth and children have tripled. There is some good advice for parents on this government website on how parents can help fend off childhood and youth obesity.


Dehydration Leads to Serious Health Conditions

Dehydration leads to other serious health conditions that involve lung and heart, type 2 diabetes and high cholesterol. Even mild dehydration can lead to symptoms like fatigue, headache, and a lack of endurance. Longer term chronic dehydration will affect the kidneys, the liver, the brain, and cause constipation. Further effects of poor health into adulthood may also be the result of not having enough hydration during the early childhood and youth development stages.

On the KidsHealth website in the article Dehydration the signs and symptoms in children and teens of dehydration are: dry mouth; lack of tears; sunken eyes; less urination; dry and cool skin; irritation; fatigue; and dizziness. If a children or teens are dehydrated and present any symptoms mentioned above, the best way to rehydrate is with water.

In the KidsHealth article Dehydration it suggests that how you treat dehydration from activity versus as a result of the flu, are different. When a child has dehydration from diarrhea because of an illness like gastroenteritis, a special liquid called oral rehydration solution (ORS) should be given over the course of 3 to 4 hours. ORS is available at grocery stores and drugstores without a prescription. The reason why this product is helpful is because it has a balanced combination of sugar and salts that children lose when dehydration sets in from the illness. It also keeps the electrolytes stable bringing more balance to a sick child. It is suggested that if a child is very ill and becomes dehydrated, do not give them water, soda, ginger ale, tea, fruit juice, gelatin desserts, or chicken broth since these items don’t have the right combination of sugar and salts and they can actually make the diarrhea worse. ORS is generally for young children and infants whereas teens can have sports drinks to rehydrate. The rehydration process starts with giving the child 1 or 2 teaspoons of ORS every few minutes.


Education is the Key

There may be many reasons why children don’t want to drink water. Some don’t like the bland taste while others don’t know how much water they should drink. Then there is mistrust of the quality regarding tap water in various locations of both the U.S. and Canada, leaving people with the only option to purchase bottled water which can be expensive.

Parents can educate and encourage their children to drink water by having bottles of water at hand. Additionally, they can add fresh fruit and vegetables to water to give it flavor. Teach children why they should drink water by showing them educational videos stating the importance of drinking water. Above all, make drinking water fun as children may be more receptive to drinking it. Another idea is to encourage them to use the water calculator and take responsibility for knowing exactly how much water they will need.


Water Intake Requirements for Children and Teens

The amount of water that kids and teens need depends on several factors. On the Eatright, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics website in the article Water: How Much Do Kids Need? the amount of water this demographic should ingest depends on age, weight, sex, air temperature and humidity level, activity performed and a person’s overall health which all affect the daily requirements of water. The chart Kids Total Daily Beverage and Drinking Water Requirements at this link defines how much water children or teens should drink per day. The data from this chart is from the Institute of Medicine of National Academies. The data from this chart includes total water intake which means drinking water, and includes fluids from food, and other beverages. When teens partake in sports activities, their water intake may be more. Replacing water that was expended is the key so that severe dehydration does not set in. 

There is the Water Calculator website that you can show your children and teens how to use so that they are engaged in determining how much water they should drink. When you make it fun, and get children and teens to investigate further for the benefit of their own health, it becomes more entertaining and sparks their curiosity.


Canadian Drinking Water Guidelines

In this article the Canadian Drinking Water Guidelines, Health Canada works with provincial and territorial governments to set guidelines concerning undesirable substances which might be in water. The guidelines assist in setting out parameters for every water system in order to provide the cleanest drinking water. Meeting the guidelines is a necessary aspect of the Multi-Barrier Approach to Safe Drinking Water. This approach involves looking at the drinking water system starting by assessing the source and to the tap. The Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality involve microbiological, chemical and radiological contaminants that might be in the water and need to be cleared. Also, it addresses taste and odour.


Stay Informed

Whether you’re an adult, child, or teen, staying hydrated is necessary to avoid serious health complications as a result of dehydration. Adults, children, and teens alike should keep track of how much water they need to ingest to lead a healthy life no matter what activity they are involved in or if they are experiencing an illness. Using a water calculator is an important first step in determining what a healthy water intake is for your body weight, sex, temperature, activity performed or if an illness emerges.



WebMD, Not Just One Reason Kids Don’t Drink Enough Water

Canadians Not Drinking Enough Water

Government of Canada
Chilhood Obesity


Water: How Much Do Kids Need?
Kids Total Daily Beverage and Drinking Water Requirements

Water Calculator
Water Calculator

Health Canada
Canadian Drinking Water Guidelines
Multi-Barrier Approach to Safe Drinking Water

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