Editor’s note: Throughout this week, KHI News Service will publish a series of stories that explore water issues in four Kansas communities and regions, including how people access water, the economics of water and challenges of drinking it. Freelance journalist Sarah Green interviewed more than 50 Kansans in person, over the phone and via email over seven months to find these stories.
Tammi Krier notices what people drink.
The registered dietitian and healthy eating director for the Greater Wichita YMCA spends her workdays talking with people who want to make changes in their lifestyle. She understands the science behind getting enough of the fluids that make our bodies work their best and she knows that water has no calories, making it an important aid in managing weight.
Instead, she said, it is often seen as an inconvenient choice compared to other options.
“If you’re going out someplace, you stop and get a drink,” she said. “Somewhere in our society we’ve learned that if you are going places or doing anything, you’ll bring a big cup of pop or a 24-ounce bottle or a cup of coffee. People have something with them, but it’s usually not water.”
It’s healthy and one of the cheapest options, Krier said, when you fill up a bottle from the tap.
“We hear a lot from people who say they don’t have the money to eat healthy food,” she said. “But then they tell me they buy a $1 pop from Sonic every day. People don’t seem to connect the two choices.”
“Somewhere in our society we’ve learned that if you are going places or doing anything, you’ll bring a big cup of pop or a 24-ounce bottle or a cup of coffee. People have something with them, but it’s usually not water.”- Tammi Krier, registered dietitian and healthy eating director for the Greater Wichita YMCA
Drinking water is a strategy routinely noted by health professionals as a key approach to addressing the monumental shift in obesity and other health problems.
Studies have confirmed the link between excessive consumption of sugary drinks and obesity. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, “one study found that for each additional 12-ounce can of soda children consumed each day, the odds of becoming obese increased by 60 percent during 1½ years of follow-up.”
A 2013 Institute of Medicine report, “Accelerating Progress in Obesity Prevention,” found that “increasing water intake may help limit excess weight gain among children, adolescents and adults.”
The YMCA includes “choose nutritious drinks” in its list of healthy eating habits, Krier said.
The amount a person should drink each day varies widely, depending on activity level and other factors, she said, but a standard rule of thumb is about 64 ounces each day for adults.
Convincing people to choose water for those 64 ounces is a challenge, Krier said.
“You don’t see advertising for water,” she said. “You see advertising for other drinks that help you run faster or be stronger. Water is not crazy, sexy or jazzy like the other things out there.”