Summer is around the corner and so is the HOT weather! It is not just the heat or being active that can dehydrate children. Dehydration can also be caused by not drinking enough water EVERYDAY. From a study conducted in 2012, nearly two thirds of children are not drinking enough at breakfast time to be properly hydrated. Researchers in Sheffield, UK believe the analysis of more than 450 children between nine and 11, showed 60 percent were classified as ‘not sufficiently hydrated’ – the stage just below ‘clinical dehydration’.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that children drink six glasses of water on an average day. During activity, however, your child can lose up to a half-liter of fluid per hour. The AAP suggests about 5 ounces (or two kid-size gulps) of water every 20 minutes for an 88-pound child. Kids and teens weighing about 132 pounds should drink 9 ounces every 20 minutes.
Living here in Denver, it is important to drink plenty of water. It is the number one way to help your body function at its best in the higher altitude. The low humidity in Colorado keeps the air dry, like the desert, so you need about twice as much water here as you would drink in other cities.
Water is essential for optimal brain health and function. It enhances circulation and aids in removing wastes. Water keeps the brain from overheating, which can cause cognitive decline and even damage. This is one of the main reasons to encourage students to drink water during exercise. Dehydration most commonly occurs because children go long periods of time without drinking water. When they are thirsty they often choose sweetened drinks instead of water. By the time thirst is felt, there may be a loss of body weight up to 2% from water loss, and a 10% cognitive decline may be present.
Dehydration can lead to fatigue, dizziness, poor concentration and reduced cognitive abilities. Even mild levels of dehydration can impact school performance. It is interesting to note that hydration has been found to affect exercise tolerance. Children who are dehydrated tend to feel tired during exercise and avoid activity, a risk factor for obesity. When students are hydrated well before exercise and drink water during their exercise, they have a more enjoyable experience with less fatigue. Furthermore, children have a different response to exercise than adults, and tend to overheat more quickly, making good hydration essential. Children in classrooms can be given structured water breaks or encouragement to keep a water bottle at their desks to sip throughout the day.
FUN WAYS TO STAY HYDRATED
1. FRUITS AND VEGGIES: These contain 70-95% water. Try produce like watermelon, cantaloupe, berries, carrots, cucumbers, and lettuce.
Fun idea: Freeze cups of applesauce for an icy treat.
2. YOGURT: Contains up to 80% water either plain or with fruit.
Fun idea: Blend some frozen berries with plain yogurt for ten seconds for a sorbet.
3. OATMEAL, BEANS, COUSCOUS, & PASTA: These foods absorb more than 50 percent of their weight in water as they cook.
Fun idea: Serve cute pasta shapes: bow ties, wagon wheels, or shells to make it appealing.
4. POPSICLES/FROZEN FRUIT BARS: Get little ones hydrated; using 100% fruit bars, or low sugar are a better alternative.
Fun idea: Puree watermelon, mix with white grape juice and freeze.
5. WATER BOTTLES: Find a water bottle that works for your child that will motivate them to drink more.
Fun Idea: Have them pick out a straw cup or sports cap bottle that has their favorite character, color, or their name. Make flavored (mint, lemon, lime) ice cubes and put them in the water bottle in the morning to help keep the drink cold and provide flavor throughout the day.
6. FLAVORED WATER: Instead of juices or sugary artificial flavored drinks, make your own tasty water combinations.
Fun Idea: Mint, lemon, strawberry, lime, orange are just a few flavors kids may enjoy! Use seltzer or club soda to create a fizzy treat!