« Make healthy hydration the new norm »

Why is water essential for your child's cognition?

The study

Previous researches have suggested that insufficient hydration is associated with poorer short-term memory in children [1, 2]. Some studies also suggest that providing children with water may result in immediate benefits for memory and visual attention [1, 3, 4]. However, the lack of consistency between different study protocols and limitations of cognitive assessment methods resulted in contradictory results. Furthermore, previous studies provided water on a single occasion or on a very short term (one day).

A recent study by Khan et al. showed for the first time that increasing water intake to 2,5L/day during four days significantly improved cognitive flexibility compared to low water intake (0,5L/day) in children [5].

Key takeaways

The results of the study also showed that children may habitually insufficiently hydrated. Hydration is particularly important for children since they have higher daily water requirement relative to body mass [6] and they depend on adults for regular access to water.

Thus, children may be at higher risk for insufficient hydration. According to the data of the Liq.In7 database, representing more than 6000 children from 13 countries across 3 continents, it is estimated that more than 60% of children do not meet the daily adequate intake recommendation for fluids and i.e. do not drink sufficiently [7]. In the United States, over half of children in the NHANES study (National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey), were shown to have highly concentrated urine, indicative of insufficient hydration [8].

Insufficient water intake and hydration may be even more prevalent at school since the Liq.In7 database also showed that children only consume 14% of their total fluid intake during school [9]. In some countries, up to 50% of children have limited or no free access to water while at school, where they spend a large proportion of waking hours and need to use their cognitive abilities [10].

From a public health perspective, access to safe water and appropriate toilet facilities at school should be made a priority to ensure adequate hydration of children at school from the youngest age.

Additional resources

Read the original article: HERE

Access the Liq.In7 Interactive map: HERE

Download the static infographic of the study : HERE

Here you'll find an article by the University of Illinois News Bureau.