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—More than half of all U.S. kids are not getting enough hydration — probably because they're not drinking enough water, researchers reported Thursday.
Even mild dehydration can cause headaches, irritability, poorer physical performance, and can hurt learning, and the team found thousands of children and teens had clear evidence of dehydration.
Black children and boys were at higher risk than whites and girls, Erica Kenney and colleagues at the Harvard School of Public Health found.
"Even though for most of these kids this is not an immediate, dramatic health threat, this is an issue that could really be reducing quality of life and well-being for many, many children and youth,” Kenney said in a statement.
Writing in the American Journal of Public Health, Kenney and colleagues said they looked at data from a national survey of 4,000 kids aged 6 to 19. Everyone gave a urine sample as part of the survey.
The researchers looked at urine osmolality, a measure of how concentrated the urine is.
Just over half of the children and adolescents weren't getting enough hydration. How could that be? Nearly a quarter of the kids in the study said they never drank plain water.
"The good news is that this is a public health problem with a simple solution," Steven Gortmaker, a professor of health sociology at Harvard, said. "If we can focus on helping children drink more water — a low-cost, no-calorie beverage — we can improve their hydration status, which may allow many children to feel better throughout the day and do better in school."
There’s an easy way to tell if you’re getting enough fluid — just keep an eye on your own pee. If it’s a light yellow color, you’re getting enough water. The darker it is, the more likely you are to be dehydrated.