Study: H2O Claims Are All Wet

Discussion
Apr 04, 2008

By George Anderson

We all need to drink water, but according to a new study the amount of water we’re drinking isn’t doing anything to make us appreciably healthier and in some cases it may even be working against us.

An editorial in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology by researchers from the University of Pennsylvania concluded that available scientific evidence does not support the recommendation for consumers to drink eight glasses of water a day and that doing so will not improve skin tone, aid weight loss, flush toxins from a person’s system or many of the other benefits widely believed to be true.

Authors Dan Negoianu and Stanley Goldfarb of Penn’s Renal, Electrolyte and Hypertension Division looked to dispel “myths” associated with drinking large volumes of water.

  • Skin tone: Water consumed is distributed equally throughout the body so
    there is no support for it providing a special benefit to the skin.
  • Reduces appetite: The best that can be said here is that studies are inconclusive
    on the question of whether drinking a lot of water will reduce the amount
    of food consumers eat.
  • Excrete toxins: Since 60 percent of the human body is composed of water,
    a few cups make no appreciable difference in the working of the kidney. If
    anything, the additional fluid runs the risk of lowering blood flow to the
    kidney, which may actually impede its ability to remove toxins.

Discussion Questions: Does the dispute over some of the health myths around drinking water pose a threat to bottled water sales? Does this issue combined with concerns over the environmental impact of bottled water pose a real threat to the category’s future prospects? Should bottled water companies be preparing a response and, if so, what form should it take?

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10 Comments on "Study: H2O Claims Are All Wet"


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Max Goldberg
Guest
14 years 1 month ago

Consumers seem to be finally waking up to the fact that in the overwhelming majority of locales, tap water is just as good for you, and much healthier for the environment, than bottled water.

The beverage companies did a great job marketing their waters, and in the process, created an ecological problem for themselves with all of the empty water bottles. As the trend towards eco-friendly products and packaging advances, beverage companies will respond with corn-based, biodegradable packaging, thinner bottles that use less plastic, more recycling centers, etc. They will add vitamins and herbs to the water to produce “health benefits.” It will be up to consumers to decide which way they want to go.

Marc Gordon
Guest
Marc Gordon
14 years 1 month ago
Could the latest health trend once again be proven to be a fad? Will drinking mass amounts of water go the way of oat bran, tofu and carb-free diets? If we have learned anything, it’s that noting lasts forever. Including the validity of research telling us the health benefits of certain foods. So, how can the bottled water industry deal with the possible concept that sales could drop as people realize they don’t need to carry around a $2.50 bottle of iceberg water? First, turn water into a viable alternative to juice or pop. They are already doing a decent job of this by adding light flavors. The problem is that the marketing behind this is weak at best. Second, add vitamins. Why down a pill when you can get all your daily nutrition in a refreshing bottle of kiwi-raspberry water? Third, make the bottles biodegradable. Forget recycling. If people knew they could bury the bottles in the garden and they would turn into fertilizer, that would be a huge marketing tool. Sorry this submission… Read more »
Ryan Mathews
Guest
14 years 1 month ago

People still smoke and eat Big Macs so, no, I don’t think this research will have much impact on sales. What may hurt the category over the long term are concerns about the impact of the packaging and that is likely to be driven by government, not consumers.

Art Williams
Guest
Art Williams
14 years 1 month ago

The biggest things that bottled water has going for it are convenience and habit. Every water has a slightly different taste to it and once you get used to a certain brand or source of water, that is the only one that tastes good to you. The controversy over the empty plastic bottles could hurt sales somewhat but not enough to seriously damage sales levels in my view. Sometimes when you aren’t supposed to have or do something it just makes you want it all the more. Additives to water will be an incentive for some depending on how well they are concocted and marketed.

I’m still getting over that we are willing to pay so much for what is free to most of us.

David Livingston
Guest
14 years 1 month ago

Bottled water, smoking, etc, is all about looking cool. Everyone knows there is no benefit to drinking bottled water compared to tap water. It’s all about looking cool at the gym or office and showing off that you have the disposable income to buy bottled water. Therefore I don’t think there will be an impact on sales. What will impact the sales of bottled water is people not being able to afford it if they lose their income.

Warren Thayer
Guest
14 years 1 month ago

This is one study. You’d need 100 more like it over the next couple years to begin to move the needle. Bottled water companies, if they are smart, and they are, won’t respond–that would just give the study more exposure. Packaging issues are really picking up steam now everywhere, so I can see that having an effect, along with the growing belief that tap water is just fine, thank you.

Carol Spieckerman
Guest
Carol Spieckerman
14 years 1 month ago

I see the health myth factor as being substantially less significant than the packaging issue; after all, the fat myth was busted a while back (just as everyone got permission to gorge on “low fat” bagels and Snack Wells), yet carbs remain an addiction; the die was cast.

As for packaging, with Wal-Mart running ads pushing Pur filtration systems and scorning bottled water (which of course is sold in massive quantities to the “over 2 million” customers referenced in the ads), and with day time talk shows returning to the water bottle scourge on slow news days, the message is getting through. Using recycled materials to make the bottles is one step; however, I think one-step sustainability is starting to look old school. I’d bury the bottles in the back yard if they grew seeds (the packaging on my bath soap does). In the meantime, I’m off the bottle and on the tap!

Doron Levy
Guest
Doron Levy
14 years 1 month ago

Companies are already responding by creating water that has all sorts of stuff in it. If you look at the major players in this category, each one has a vitamin enriched line that is more expensive than the standard ‘non healthy’ water. Labeling is aggressive and tout the benefits of the additional ingredients. These products almost have a medicinal feel to them when you look at the facings on the shelf. The direction seems to be added features and benefits to the standard bottle of water.

Sue Nicholls
Guest
Sue Nicholls
14 years 1 month ago

You need to drink to stay hydrated. If you exercise, you need even more liquids. So your options are juice, soft drinks, energy drinks, alcohol, tea, coffee, milk, (maybe some others), and water. The calories, caffeine, addiction and sugar content of these other options make them much less desirable than water. Are we supposed to stop drinking?

Mark Lilien
Guest
14 years 1 month ago

Science versus fashion: who’ll be the winner? Haven’t heard about any bottled water executive suicides this week. Haven’t heard about any bottled water company bankruptcies either. I hear that a scientist is about to prove that walking is good exercise. Will this be the final straw that breaks the auto companies? Bulletin to all candy manufacturers: a scientist will soon announce that sugar promotes tooth decay. Time to sell the chocolate factory to the first guy who offers anything for it.

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