Furthermore, the third biggest source of water intake is sugar-sweetened beverages, sparking fresh fears about obesity and diabetes rates.
These were the key findings of a new study published by academics from the UAE, US, UK, Canada and Egypt that have been published in the journal Nutrients.
They found that there were limited studies examining water consumption among individuals in hot climates.
Therefore, they assessed the daily total water intake from plain water, other beverages, and food in a nationally representative sample of children and adolescents aged 6–18 years in the United Arab Emirates.
Total water intake was then compared against the recommendations of the Institute of Medicine and the European Food Safety Authority.
Plain drinking water was the largest contributor to total water intake (51.6%), followed by food (27.3%). Sugar-sweetened beverages constituted 13.9% of water intake.
The academics wrote: “The proportion of participants who met the Institute of Medicine recommendations ranged from 15% (males aged 14–18) to 25% (children aged 6–8).
“The proportion of participants who met the European Food Safety Authority recommendations ranged from 31% (females aged 14–18) to 36% (males aged 14–18).
“The majority of participants failed to meet water intake recommendations, highlighting the need for targeted interventions to promote increased water consumption among children and adolescents.”
Although the UAE has stringent municipal water quality standards, bottled water was the source of over 80% of plain drinking water among participants.
The researchers said this finding was consistent with the results of a recent survey among 200 parents of 3–15 year old children in the UAE. Furthermore, the UAE was ranked the eighth largest per-capita consumer of bottled water in 2017.
According to analysts at Euromonitor, retail sales of bottled water increased by 8% last year to 1.31 billion litres.
That said, the researchers added that more work needed to be undertaken to increase water intake.
They concluded: “The majority of the Emirati children and adolescents in the study failed to meet international water intake recommendations during non-summer months. This is of particular concern since the UAE is located in one the hottest regions in the world.
“Community awareness programs that promote increased plain water intake and replacing sugar-sweetened beverages with plain water, low fat milk, and fruits and vegetables are needed in the country. In addition to water consumption assessment, future studies should incorporate biochemical markers of hydration status.”
“Water and Beverage Consumption among a Nationally Representative Sample of Children and Adolescents in the United Arab Emirates”
Authors: Habiba I. Ali, et al.