The findings support recommendations that plain water should be promoted as the main source of fluid for children.
Enrolling 173 overweight Danish adolescents, lead author Dr Louise Andersen from the University of Copenhagen gave one litre of either water or milk per day to these children over a 12 week period.
Her team looked at the effects this fluid intake had on calories, nutrients, food types and general dietary patterns.
The children were encouraged to eat without limitations during the study, except for the addition of the test drink.
The results showed that the children ate a lower intake of food per kilogram of body weight during the 12-week period.
Consumption of sugary drinks was significantly lower in both water and milk study groups. The water group showed a decrease in calories consumed during the intervention.
“This might be a positive step towards maintaining a healthy diet and maybe also a healthy weight,” the authors noted.
A dearth of studies
Studies that have shown what happens in the rest of the diet when children in non-restricted settings increased their water consumption are few and far between.
To the team’s knowledge, no studies had analysed the overall changes in dietary patterns when increasing water intake.
Drinking of extra fluid seems to have a favourable influence on the rest of the diet, as a decrease in convenience food was observed, including a decreased intake of sugary drinks during both water and dairy interventions.
“The choice of a beverage with low energy content, such as water, seems advantageous when considering the total energy intake in these overweight adolescents,” the study concluded.
“These findings support the recommendation stating that plain water should be promoted as the main source of fluid for children, who should thereby reduce the intake of sugar-sweetened beverages.”
Source: International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition
Published online ahead of print, DOI:10.3109/09637486.2016.1150435
“The effects of water and dairy drinks on dietary patterns in overweight adolescents.”
Authors: Louise Andersen, Karina Arnberg, Ellen Trolle, Kim Michaelsen, Rasmus Bro, Christian Pipper & Christian Mølgaard