You can lead a boy to water... but why is it so hard to get him to drink?
According to a recent study of more than 4,000 children, boys have a higher
risk of dehydration than girls. And, according to the American Journal
of Public Health and the Harvard School of Public Health, a quarter of
children and teenagers ages 6 to 19 didn’t drink water at all.
“It seems so simple, but convincing children to drink more water
could be one of the most simple, beneficial things you do for the health
of your child,” says
Wilfredo Alejo, MD, a pediatrician with
St. Jude Heritage Medical Group in Diamond Bar. Dehydration occurs when your body loses fluids faster
than they are being replaced. It’s particularly dangerous for children
because of how quickly their smaller bodies can lose fluids, especially
when they are playing sports or having fun outdoors.
“It doesn’t have to be hot for your kids to become dehydrated.
Pay close attention if your children appear to have dry mouth, little
to no tears when crying, cool and dry skin in the heat, or if they are
getting fatigued or dizzy while playing,” explains Dr. Alejo says.
“Be especially on guard if your child has recently had a fever,
experienced diarrhea, or has been vomiting, as these conditions can rapidly
accelerate the onset of dehydration.”
Dehydration can cause headaches, diminished physical performance, kidney
problems, mental functioning, and irritability. In extreme cases, dehydration
can cause loss of consciousness and even death.
“The easiest way to protect your kids from dehydration is to get
them to drink more water more often,” Dr. Alejo says. “You
should also make sure children and teens drink well in advance of exercise
even if they are not thirsty, as one of the best ways to prevent dehydration
is to stay ahead of it. Get them in the habit of bringing a water bottle
along when they head off to school or the playground.”
While there is no clear answer as to why boys appear to be more susceptible
to dehydration, one of the likely culprits are beverage companies targeting
children with advertising that glamorizes highly caffeinated energy drinks
and soft drinks.
“If your teen is drinking energy drinks and sodas instead of water
when they work out, they aren’t staying as hydrated,” Dr.
Alejo says. While the individual response to caffeine can vary, heavily
caffeinated energy drinks and sodas can boost heart rates and blood pressure,
Dr. Alejo adds.
“When you combine elevated heart rates and blood pressure with exercise,
it can make an otherwise mild dehydration condition worse. Low-sugar sports
drinks with electrolytes are good water replacement options for athletes
who spend many hours in intense sport, but plain old water does the trick
just as efficiently for kids at regular levels of exercise,” Dr.
Have any good tips or tricks to get kids to drink more water? Share them
with the HealthCalling community in the comments section below and help
combat the problem.
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