MILAN – In the public imagination, obesity is often associated with foodstuffs and rarely with what we drink. To clarify this relationship, questions were put to Michele Carruba, a specialist from the centre for study and research into obesity in the Department of Medical Biotechnology and Medical Translation at the University of Milan. The Professor explained the relationship between hydration and obesity in the course of the international conference on hydration held within Expo and during which leading experts on this subject put their request to institute a National Day of Hydration to the Minister of Health.
The risks of obesity and overweight
Excess weight, in particular intra-abdominal fat, is associated with a series of conditions which are known risk factors for cardiovascular diseases, including: hypertension; dislipidemia; insulin resistance; type 2 diabetes; cancer, and kidney and liver diseases. Obesity and other metabolic disorders have become health “epidemics” of the 21st century. There are over 1 billion adults overweight in the world and at least 300 million are considered obese. What is worrying is the data relating to the very youngest members of the population: across the world, a good 22 million children under the age of 5 are overweight.
The impact of liquid calories
Modern eating habits are also leading to an increase in so-called “liquid calories”, or high calorie drinks. To give an example, in the US, the consumption of these soft drinks has increased by 300% in the past 20 years. The excessive consumption of these drinks is associated with a series of problems for health, ranging from metabolic syndrome to type 2 diabetes. One prospective study has observed how in school children, this habit can increase the risk of obesity by 60%.
Promoting proper hydration
Especially during the school years, it is a good idea to make children aware of healthy drinking habits and water should be the number one choice. This is because it is a drink with no calories, sugar or additives and it is not acid-forming. Its consumption is not associated with weight increase or metabolic disturbances and various studies have demonstrated that water helps reduce the prevalence of obesity in school children.