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American Children Should Drink More Water!

75% of children between the of 4 and 8 consume 250 ml less than the recommended amount of water per day

Water makes up 75% of a newborn and 60% of an adult’s body weight. It is therefore essential to consume an adequate amount of water on a daily basis for the body to function properly.

The American Institute of Medicine (IOM) has established recommendations regarding the amount of water the human body needs at different stages in life (1). Those recommendations include drinking water (either from the tap or bottled water), water in other drinks such as fruit juice, soda, tea, coffee, etc. and water obtained from the food we eat.

The total amount of water that children require is as follows (1): 1.7 liters per day for children from 4 to 8 years old (girls and boys alike), 2.1 liters per day for girls from 9 to 13 years old and 2.4 liters per day for boys from 9 to 13 years old.

In order to find out if American children are meeting these water needs, some experts (2) analyzed the results of 3 cycles of the NHANES study (2005-2006, 2007-2008, 2009-2010) carried out on a total of 4,766 children between the ages of 4 and 13. The surveys were based on a 24-hour period dietary intake of 2 non-consecutive days. The detailed questionnaire allowed collecting data on water consumption from all sources: drinking water (tap or bottled), other drinks and food.

The results are as follows:

  1. On average, children are not getting 250 to 600 ml of the required amount of water per day, depending on their age!

75% of children between the ages of 4 and 8 were consuming 250 ml less than the recommended amount of water per day (1,450 ml compared to 1,700 ml per day, as recommended by the IOM). 83% of girls and 85% boys aged between 9 and 13 years, respectively, were consuming 440 to 630 ml less than the recommended amount of water per day! So the older the child, the less their water needs are being met.


Daily water consumption and shortfalls (red section in the columns) and the percentage of children who meet and fail to meet their total water needs (circles).

Article extract (2).

  1. Water consumed in the form of drinking water represents a mere 25-30% of the total amount of water intake!

When we examine whether the water consumed is coming from drinks or food, we can see that water and other beverages contributed to 70-75% of total water intake and that the remaining 25-30% are coming from food moisture. For drinking water (from bottled or tap water), 4 to 8 year olds only drink 365 ml of water per day and 9 to 13 year olds only drink on average 500 ml per day. This represents a mere 25 to 30% of the total amount of water intake. The rest is obtained from milk (especially younger children – 300 ml per day on average) and soda, fruit juice or other drinks. Water obtained from food represents around 450 ml of water per day – about the same as that obtained from drinking water.


Allocation of different factors contributing to daily water consumption (in volume).

Article extract (2).

  1. A Simple Solution: Drink More Water!

A good way of increasing your total water consumption is by drinking more water.

Here are some tips to help you and your child stay well hydrated:

  • Drink water before being thirsty
  • Drink small amount of water regularly throughout the day rather than big amounts few times a day
  • Alternate the type of water: plain or sparkling
  • Create rituals during your day: a glass of water when you wake up or before going to bed…
  • Associate drinking water with a daily activity like meals
  • Drink before, during and after any physical activity
  • Remember to drink more when it’s hot
  • Always have a bottle of water with you

Another study carried out on 548 children aged  between 9 and 11 years (3) found an elevated urinary osmolality (concentrated urine) in more than 63% of school children in Los Angeles and New York. This means that children are not drinking enough water in the morning before going to school.

Therefore, it is important to teach your children to drink enough water every day to stay well hydrated.


  1. Dietary Reference Intakes for Water, Potassium, Sodium, Chloride, and Sulfate. 2004. webcite
  2. Drewnowski A, Rehm Colin D, Constant F. Water and beverage consumption among children age 4-13 y in the United States : analyses of 2005 – 2010 NHANES data. Nutrition Journal 2013, 12 : 85
  3. Stookey JD, Brass B, Holliday A, Arieff A: What is the cell hydration status of healthy children in the USA? Preliminary data on urine osmolality and water intake.
  4. Public Health Nutr 2012, 15:2148-2156. PubMed Abstract | Publisher Full Text

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