Almost two-thirds of children are not drinking enough at breakfast time to be properly hydrated, a study has claimed.
Researchers in Sheffield believe the analysis of more than 450 children between nine and 11 is the first of its kind in Britain. It showed 60% were classed as “not sufficiently hydrated” — the stage just below “clinical dehydration”.
Researchers from the University of Sheffield Medical School looked at what the children were eating and drinking before leaving for school.
They also measured urine osmolality — the concentration of urine, which is a key indicator of hydration levels.
Prof Gerard Friedlander, of the Descartes University Medical School in Paris, who oversaw the research, said: “We are concerned by the findings of the study, which suggest that children are not consuming enough fluid at the beginning of the day to be able to maintain adequate hydration through the morning.
“Children are more vulnerable to dehydration than adults due to their high surface-to-bodyweight ratio. They also don’t always pay attention to the feeling of thirst, so may not naturally ask for a drink.”
Prof Friedlander said the findings closely reflected recent research carried out in France and the US which showed 62.2% and 64% of children respectively arrived at school insufficiently hydrated. The British study showed a higher figure for boys at 68.4%, compared with girls at 53.5%. The study was commissioned by Nestle Waters.
The European Food Safety Authority advises that boys aged between nine and 13 years old should take 2.1 litres of fluid a day and girls should get 1.9 litres.
It recommends children at this age drink at least eight 150ml glasses of water a day, slightly smaller than the glass size recommended for adults.
Child psychologist Pat Spungin said: “Although it can sometimes be tricky to get children to drink water, the key is to encourage drinking little and often. Make sure they have a glass of water before going to school and perhaps pack a bottle in their school bag, so they can take regular sips.
“Plain water should be the first choice for all day long hydration.”
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved