Water and Obesity Prevention
Professor Barry Popkin from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Carolina Population Center kept the conversation lively by reviewing the impact of water intervention on total diet and diet-related outcomes. Pr Popkin reviewed the recent history of food retail and consumer packaged goods and its evolution along with consumer preference for sweetness. Furthermore, Pr Popkin conveyed concern that hydration has suffered alongside this penchant for sweetness as consumers reach for sweetened and carbonated beverages instead of water. Pr Popkinsuggested the need for more research around the health impact of interventions comparing water intake to that of sweetened, carbonated beverages.
Taking a deeper look at this topic, Dr Hernández Cordero from the National Institute of Nutrition and Public Health in Mexico explored how an intervention study in which water is substituted for sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) could impact health outcomes in overweight and obese women. Mexico has one of the highest rates of obesity and related risk factors as well as the highest consumption rate of SSBs. Dr Hernández Cordero’s study, conducted in Cuernavaca, México, looked at the effect of increasing water to the expense of SSBs intake on metabolic parameters. Analysis of the results suggest positive outcomes, particularly in obese women..
Looking at the impetus for making healthy choices from a different perspective, social psychologist Dr Saadi Lahlou from the London School of Economics discussed how the theory of “installation” may impact health choices. This theory takes into account a three-layered installation that includes the environment, the individual and social influences. Dr Lahlou used this theory in a one-year intervention in Poland to “nudge” children to make the healthy choice of drinking more water. This installation’s three elements were: information on the benefits of drinking water, placement of free bottles of water and access to an online forum on water consumption. Placement of water had the strongest effect, but all treatments increased water consumption, “nudging” the children to keep drinking water even six months beyond the end of the intervention.
From Science to Public Health
Making a public health campaign as compelling as a new product launch from the world’s biggest brands, Drew Nannis, chief marketing officer for Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA) gave a behind-the-scenes look at the Drink Up campaign. The Drink Up campaign brings together private sector marketing strategies, consumer research and star power, including PHA’s honorary chair, First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama. Drink Up has a simple message: “We are what we drink and when we drink water, we drink up.” More on the DrinkUp campaign here.