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In the EU, Water Doesn't (Officially) Prevent Dehydration 815

Posted by timothy
from the you-need-prescription-only-dihydrogen-monoxide dept.
New Kohath writes with this news from The Guardian: "Bottled water producers applied to the EU for the right to claim that 'regular consumption of significant amounts of water can reduce the risk of development of dehydration'. The health claim was reviewed by a panel of 21 scientists on behalf of the European Food Standards Authority. The application was denied, and now producers of bottled water are forbidden by law from making the claim. They will face a two-year jail sentence if they defy the EU edict."
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In the EU, Water Doesn't (Officially) Prevent Dehydration

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  • by Opportunist (166417) on Saturday November 19, 2011 @10:15PM (#38112784)

    ...before we jump to the "EU makes dumb decision" conclusion as usual. Sellers of bottled water wanted to use that phrase as a selling point for bottled water. The EU decided that you could get the same from other sources of fluids. It may surprise some US people, but in a lot of areas you can actually drink tap water here...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 19, 2011 @10:17PM (#38112800)

    “This claim is trying to imply that there is something special about bottled water which is not a reasonable claim.”

  • The Telegraph (Score:5, Informative)

    by Goaway (82658) on Saturday November 19, 2011 @10:19PM (#38112820) Homepage

    Look, people, this is The Telegraph. They are incredibly biased and unprofessional when it comes to the EU. They will happily lie about anything if it makes the EU look bad.

    Anything they say about the EU is pretty much guaranteed to be garbage. Please don't encourage this kind of dishonesty by giving them pageviews.

  • Re:The Telegraph (Score:0, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 19, 2011 @10:23PM (#38112850)

    Congrats! Strawman attacked! Don't listen to the message, attack the messenger.

  • Re:And in the US (Score:5, Informative)

    by Dahamma (304068) on Saturday November 19, 2011 @10:24PM (#38112864)

    Fruit is a biological term, vegetable is a culinary term. Tomatoes can be both, why does everyone have such a hard time with this?

    (ketchup, on the other hand... is awesomeness but yes, Congress is completely bought and sold by all lobbies, including the processed food and frozen pizza lobbies)

  • by Zeroedout (2036220) on Saturday November 19, 2011 @10:27PM (#38112884)
    Man I wish I had mod points. How do people get paid to write articles like the telegraph headline. No one claimed water doesn't hydrate, just that bottled water doesn't do anything any other fluid can't....
  • Re:And in the US (Score:3, Informative)

    by shentino (1139071) on Saturday November 19, 2011 @10:30PM (#38112908)

    Nix v. Hedden settled that case.

    In favor of the tax greedy government, asyou might expect.

    Tomatoes were ruled to be a vegetable.

    And oddly enough, vegetables had higher taxes than fruits.

  • by CmdrPony (2505686) on Saturday November 19, 2011 @10:32PM (#38112920)
    There are lots of other laws and regulations making sure people aren't taken advantage of. Hell, that's the basis for all laws.
  • by CmdrPony (2505686) on Saturday November 19, 2011 @10:37PM (#38112958)
    You mad bro?

    Prof Brian Ratcliffe, spokesman for the Nutrition Society, said dehydration was usually caused by a clinical condition and that one could remain adequately hydrated without drinking water. He said: âoeThe EU is saying that this does not reduce the risk of dehydration and that is correct. âoeThis claim is trying to imply that there is something special about bottled water which is not a reasonable claim.â

  • by TreeInMyCube (1789238) on Saturday November 19, 2011 @10:38PM (#38112962)
    But ... but ... look in the dictionary. Dehydration is *defined* as a lack of water. Not a lack of carbonated beverage, not a lack of sports drinks, not a lack of beer, but a lack of water. The notion that drinking water cures hydration is correct by definition, regardless of the source of the water. For the EU panel to deny this violates linguistics, not physics or chemistry.
  • by CmdrPony (2505686) on Saturday November 19, 2011 @10:39PM (#38112982)
    I live much of my time in Asia and tap water isn't drinkable there. However, bottled water is ridiculously cheap too. It's just a scam in western countries.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 19, 2011 @10:41PM (#38113002)

    Someone at the Guardian [guardian.co.uk] wrote about this. It was not submitted by bottled water manufacturers:

    The claim wasn't submitted for a genuine product, but was created as a deliberate 'test' exercise by the two professors, who were apparently already unhappy with the European Food Standards Authority.

    Now, the ruling from the EU says that the application failed to comply with Article 14 of Regulation 1924/2006, which states "It is necessary to ensure that the
      substances for which a claim is made have been shown to have a beneficial nutritional or physiological effect".

    I'm guessing that the point where this application tripped up is that they didn't suggest how much water or how often would be beneficial and apparently didn't provide any evidence for the claim, so they haven't actually shown it is beneficial as required by Article 14.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 19, 2011 @10:43PM (#38113016)

    Not to mention that drinking only water without also replenishing electrolytes can actually be downright dangerous. There's a reason re-hydration kits include salts and sugar.

  • Re:Once Again... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 19, 2011 @10:43PM (#38113018)

    yeh, here bottle water is about twice as expensive as the heavily taxed gasoline, and the tap water is generally from deep underground filtered through soil for something like 60 years so it is better in every measureable way. bottled water companies will do everything they can to sell the idea that drinking they stuff will make you healthy, sporty, rich, successfull ....

  • Re:And in the US (Score:3, Informative)

    by CmdrPony (2505686) on Saturday November 19, 2011 @10:44PM (#38113022)
    In Thailand, and at least there it's somewhat common practice I guess. When you order pizza they pack ketchup with it (so you can put it if you want to, just like oregano or chili), and pizza places have ketchup bottles. And in their advertisement videos I've seen them putting ketchup on them, but I have never done so. And yes, it sounds disgusting.
  • Here you go. (Score:5, Informative)

    by PCM2 (4486) on Saturday November 19, 2011 @10:51PM (#38113066) Homepage
  • by QuasiSteve (2042606) on Saturday November 19, 2011 @11:14PM (#38113248)

    I live in the US, and I've never lived anywhere you couldn't drink tap water

    I've been all over the U.S. (well, almost all) and while you can drink the tap water pretty much anywhere, I wouldn't say it's necessarily refreshing.

    Keep in mind that in most homes 'tap water' really means water that's already gone through Brita or other filters in the first place.
    Good thing, too, because without the filter the water in many states tastes very much of chlorine.

    That said, the bottled water thing is still a scam and a major factor in street / park / water streams pollution - from the production of the bottles down to the people discarding of them inappropriately. Why so many Americans put up with this is beyond me.

    I wouldn't call for a ban either, though. Having bottled water around can be a good thing (e.g. in case of emergencies or just not having any water come into the house due to burst mains pipe).. but for the average thirst quenching? ridiculous

  • by hydrofix (1253498) on Saturday November 19, 2011 @11:27PM (#38113348)

    Actually, according to the original decision [europa.eu], it is not not about bottled water, but (any) water in general.

    However, as far as I understand, this conclusion was not reached because water would not prevent dehydration, but because they don't think dehydration is a disease. Which kind of makes sense – dehydration could be a symptom of a disease, but it is not a disease in itself. And the applicant asked a panel that verifies claims about products reducing the risk of a disease to verify a claim about a medical condition that –the board concluded– was not disease, so the board rejected the claim (or actually concluded [direct quote]: "The Panel considers that the proposed claim does not comply with the requirements for a disease risk reduction claim ...")

  • Re:And in the US (Score:5, Informative)

    by ChromeAeonium (1026952) on Saturday November 19, 2011 @11:28PM (#38113350)

    That had nothing to do with government greed. It was the right ruling. Should the government tax tomatoes as vegetables? Well, you might say that they are a fruit, and vegetables are things like cucumbers, squash, peppers, eggplant, string beans, pea pods, corn, okra, right? Problem is, everything I just mentioned is also botanically a fruit (fruits that, for some strange reason, people don't embarrass themselves by pointing out that that they're botanical fruits like they do with tomatoes). Cucumbers and squash are pepos (which are actually a type of berry), corn (and wheat and rice) is a type of fruit called a caryopsis, peanuts and string beans are legumes, and eggplant and peppers are berries. Fruit has both a culinary AND scientific meaning. Culinary, it is a sweet part of the plant that is almost always a botanical fruit, but that does not imply that a botanical fruit is also a culinary fruit. Scientifically, milkweed pods, cotton pods, and those little helicopters that fall from maple trees are fruits. Chocolate covered cucumber sound good to you? What about tomato ice cream, or pea pod pie? No? That's because they're not fruits in the everyday speech. You're going to stop calling peanuts and almonds nuts (peanut is a legume and almond is a drupe) or stop calling potatoes root vegetables (they're tubers, which are stems), and no one is calling rice, peppers, or string beans fruits, so why this fixation on the fact that tomatoes are botanical fruits?

    Vegetable has no scientific meaning, so it is perfectly reasonable to consider something a botanical fruit and a culinary vegetable. Just by mentioning the term, we know that we're speaking in culinary or horticultural terms, not pure botanical terms. Something can be a root and a vegetable (like carrots) a stem and a vegetable (like potatoes), a leaf and a vegetable (lettuce), a flower and a vegetable (broccoli), and things can be a botanical fruit and a vegetable too. Culinary fruits don't need to be a botanical fruit either. The best example is the strawberry. The actual fruits are the the little seeds on the outside (called achenes), whereas the culinary part is just the large swollen receptacle, which is a modified stem. I think botanists consider the whole thing, both the achenes and the receptacle to be the fruit, so that is a pretty weak example, but that should at least make you think about what a fruit really is. Historically, rhubarb was considered a fruit at times. However, if I gave you a cashew apple [wikimedia.org] (yes, every cashew nut has a fruit to go along with it) or if I gave you the 'fruit' of a native cherry or [wikipedia.org]Japanese raisin tree [wikipedia.org], you might not be able to tell that they aren't actually fruits. The lleuque [wikipedia.org] 'fruit' doesn't even come from an angiosperm (only angiosperms have fruit)! If any of those were commercially cultivated, what would we call them? Vegetables? Should we regulate something that in terms of cultivation and use is more similar to a cherry like a radish just because of some botanical nitpick? I don't think so.

    So, if we were speaking strictly scientifically, we'd treat corn, chili peppers, and pea pods the same as apples, grapes, andbananas. But that'd be pretty darned stupid, right? That's why we don't do it. The government made the right call there. I imagine someone was just being a smartass to get out of some taxes.

  • by snowgirl (978879) on Saturday November 19, 2011 @11:30PM (#38113360) Journal

    Carbohydrates may help prevent starvation.

    Actually, no, you cannot make that claim in the US either. It is a claim of ability to treat, cure, or prevent a disease (starvation), and only drugs that have been shown effective can advertise medical claim. Carbs are not a drug, therefore they cannot be marketed as preventing starvation. (It's a nice thought though, that the USA would allow such "deceptive" advertising.)

  • Re:Once Again... (Score:5, Informative)

    by tragedy (27079) on Saturday November 19, 2011 @11:30PM (#38113368)

    Bear in mind that we're certainly looking at a translation of what the actual advertising claim was, and possibly a biased one. There's this [youtube.com] Nestle PureLife water commercial to consider. In it, a bunch of girls on a soccer team run up to their coach and are handed sports drinks and the coach tells them to "drink up [they're] losing a lot of water out there", and one of the girls asks why, if they're losing water, they don't just drink water. The coach has a dumbfounded expression for a moment, then takes the sports drinks back, and hands out Nestle PureLife water instead. The voiceover then says that nothing hydrates like water.

    The medically correct answer to the little girls question is that, when exercizing, you lose salts and carbohydrates as well as water. Proper rehydration replaces those as well. Given that the commercial is presenting what amounts to (potentially fatal in extreme conditions) medical advice, it amounts to false advertising. In the United States, it's clear that the government just doesn't care about false advertising any more, but in the EU, they actually take consumers being lied to by corporations in the name of profit seriously.

  • Re:Once Again... (Score:5, Informative)

    by orangesquid (79734) <orangesquid@yahYEATSoo.com minus poet> on Saturday November 19, 2011 @11:36PM (#38113408) Homepage Journal

    You *can* say it is incorrect, in most cases.
    In fact, water overconsumption can easily lead to hyponatremia. It would be more correct to say "Steady, adequate freshwater intake throughout the course of the day curbs the likelihood of hypernatremia, a form of dehydration. Note that in a balanced diet, a significant portion of the body's water and sodium requirements come from food. Note that fruit juices, or a combination of fresh fruit and freshwater, meets the body's needs for water and sodium near-optimally. Note that isotonia, the excessive loss of body fluid, such as through diarrhea or vomiting, is a type of dehydration best treated by electrolyte solutions like Gatorade or Pedialyte, or parenterally via a 0.9% saline drip in severe cases. Note that hypovolemia, the excessive loss of body fluid typically through excessive bleeding, should be treated with medical care. Also note that rapid intake of freshwater over a short period of time is not as effective as a sustained intake throughout the day, as sudden rises in body water content are simply filtered by the kidneys in healthy individuals. Repeating this rapid intake behavior excessively can lead to hyponatremia, a form of dehydration, or, in more serious cases, hypovolemia, a condition related to dehydration that requires medical attention. In individuals with compromised excretory function, rapid water intake may lead to severe hyponatremia, a form of dehydration that requires medical attention, or a more severe condition of hypervolemia characterized by a swelling of the limbs known as peripheral edema or more severe and life-threatening complications, particularly in individuals in poor health or with poor diets or diets lacking in protein. Greatly excessive and sustained intake of freshwater combined with excessive perspiration may continue past hyponatremia to the point of water intoxication, a medical crisis that may cause brain damage or death."

    But, I guess that doesn't have quite the same ring to it, eh? ;) "brain damage or death" is probably one of the potential side effects that bottled-water manufacturers want to list on their products... heh.

    Note, IANAMP (==medical professional); I just study medicine (and mostly neuropathy and neurosurgery, at that) as a hobby, so please feel free to correct the above.

  • by westlake (615356) on Sunday November 20, 2011 @12:14AM (#38113694)

    But ... but ... look in the dictionary. Dehydration is *defined* as a lack of water.

    Which dictionary?

    And defined for what purpose?

    What the EU is saying is that claims of medical benefits -- expressed or implied -- must not be framed in a way that can mislead the buyer.

  • Re:The Telegraph (Score:5, Informative)

    by artor3 (1344997) on Sunday November 20, 2011 @12:24AM (#38113768)

    Doesn't matter though, they've already achieved their goal here. A bunch of people came by Slashdot, saw the headline, and now subconsciously think slightly worse of the EU. Truth doesn't matter even the slightest bit in our society. All that matters is how often and how broadly you can push your lies.

  • by _0xd0ad (1974778) on Sunday November 20, 2011 @12:39AM (#38113840) Journal

    Not true; they can mess with the disinfecting chemicals.

    Most of the disinfection chemicals do exactly that: disinfect. They have very little effect on taste or odor problems. Chemicals such as powdered activated carbon or potassium permanganate can be added to try to combat undesirable tastes, odors, and colors in the water, but they're costly and not terribly effective. Since controlling taste, odor, and color are all secondary standards [epa.gov] according to the EPA, water treatment processes don't typically spend too much money trying to perfect the taste of their water. As I said, this isn't new; GGP is just used to the flavor of bottled water now.

    Philadelphia, for instance, adds enough chlorine that the tap water burns your throat going down.

    I very much doubt it. The EPA regulates chlorine residuals in drinking water [epa.gov]. Adding too much chlorine would be expensive and serve little useful purpose in addition to making the water unpalatable; additionally, if free chlorine is used, it can create harmful disinfection by-products. 2-4 PPM chlorine is typical for a disinfection residual. A quick internet search didn't provide any information about high levels of chlorine in Philadelphia's drinking water.

    Other municipalities use chloramines rather than straight chlorine, which produces a different taste.

    Free chlorine tastes like chlorine; water treated with chloramines doesn't taste like chlorine. I am well familiar with this fact. However, the quality of water produced by one municipality wouldn't vary based on chlorination/chloramination unless it switched from one to the other, and municipalities don't change their treatment process that often. The taste of water between different municipalities will vary, but that's to be expected.

  • Re:Once Again... (Score:5, Informative)

    by sed quid in infernos (1167989) on Sunday November 20, 2011 @12:41AM (#38113856)

    In the United States, it's clear that the government just doesn't care about false advertising any more

    Wow, you are very misinformed. Example 1. [washingtonpost.com] Example 2. [fashionista.com] Example 3. [consumeraffairs.com] Example 4. [consumeraffairs.com] Example 5. [latimes.com] All this year (most in the last month), all from the FTC, all just a small fraction of recent efforts. There are also several other federal agencies and at least 50 state agencies that go after false advertising.

  • Re:Once Again... (Score:5, Informative)

    by BasilBrush (643681) on Sunday November 20, 2011 @12:46AM (#38113886)

    Thankfully, common sense, just like old wives tales, are not allowed as a basis for making medical claims. In order to make a medical claim, you have to get approval, after having performed 3 phases of trials. A process which will typically take around 10 years. And the trials involve testing against a control. I'd suggest that the most reasonable control against which to test bottled water is water. And I'd further suggest that the bottled water companies would be wasting their time doing that, because it's going to show that their product is no better at reducing the chances of dehydration.

    There's no problem at all with bottled water companies claiming their product quenches thirst - that's not a medical claim. And everybody would understand exactly what they mean by that. But they are quite rightly prevented from trying to bamboozle people with disingenuous medical claims.

  • Re:And in the US (Score:5, Informative)

    by msauve (701917) on Sunday November 20, 2011 @12:46AM (#38113888)
    I believe that there were cooks calling things "fruits" and "vegetables" before there were scientists (in the modern sense of that word). Both terms go back to Middle English, according to the OED. So, really, scientists have no right to re-categorized plant words for their own purposes.

    BTW, the Oxford disagrees with your claim:

    The confusion about 'fruit' and 'vegetable' arises because of the differences in usage between scientists and cooks.

    - OED [oxforddictionaries.com]

  • Re:Once Again... (Score:5, Informative)

    by snowgirl (978879) on Sunday November 20, 2011 @12:57AM (#38113944) Journal

    My understanding (which may be wring mind you) is that iron supplements indeed don't do anything to cure or prevent iron deficiency. To be effective, the iron has to be absorbed by the body. That is rather tricky with iron, and simply taking something with iron in it isn't enough.

    There is also another point here, which is that using iron supplements to cure or prevent iron deficiency would be very easy to clinically test. The reason the FDA hasn't approved of it as a drug is almost certainly because the studies have been done, and the supplement was not shown to be effective.

    No. Ferrous Sulfate (the "active" ingredient in my iron supplement) has been shown to be able to treat iron-deficiency. Your skepticism is reasonable and warranted with herbal supplements, but in this case does not apply.

  • Re:Once Again... (Score:5, Informative)

    by D'Sphitz (699604) on Sunday November 20, 2011 @01:54AM (#38114214) Journal
    In case anyone cares to dig beneath the thick exterior of FUD, manufactured outrage, and just plain lies [guardian.co.uk] coating this ridiculous story:

    (If you look at the date on the document I just linked to, you'll notice that this was all published in February, which makes it remarkable that so many journalists happened to leap on this story at the same time, completely independently of each other, without anyone copying what anyone else did or churnalizing each other in any way whatsoever).

    So what about the actual claim? Well you can read the EU's ruling here (PDF) [europa.eu], and the first thing to note is that this isn't really a rule so much as a piece of advice, which member states are free to interpret as they wish.

    ...The specific health claim tested is outlined in the ruling:

    The regular consumption of significant amounts of water can reduce the risk of development of dehydration and of concomitant decrease of performance.

    The claim wasn't submitted for a genuine product, but was created as a deliberate 'test' exercise by the two professors, who were apparently already unhappy with the European Food Standards Authority. The panel were well aware of it's absurdity too, noting drily that "the proposed risk factors," the conditions addressed by the hypothetical product, in this case water loss, "are measures or water depletion and thus are measures of the disease (dehydration)."

    Leaving that aside, there are two major problems with the claim: drinking water doesn't prevent dehydration, and drinking-water doesn't prevent dehydration.

    Firstly, "regular consumption" of water doesn't reduce the risk of dehydration any more than eating a pork pie a day reduces the risk of starvation. If I drink half a pint of bottled water while running through a desert in the blistering sun, I'll still end up dehydrated, and if I drink several bottles today, that won't prevent me from dehydrating tomorrow. The key is to drink enough water when you need it, and you're not going to get that from any bottled water product unless it's mounted on a drip.

    Secondly, dehydration doesn't just mean a lack of water, or 'being thirsty'; electrolytes like sodium are important too. If salt levels fall too far, the body struggles to regulate fluid levels in the first place. That's why hospitals use saline drips to prevent dehydration in patients who can't take fluids orally, and why people with diarhhoea are treated with salt-containing oral rehydration fluids. Presumably the next big investigation at the Express will expose the shocking waste of NHS money on needless quantities of saline solution, when jolly old tap water would work just as well.

    So the ruling seems pretty sensible to me, or at least as sensible as a ruling can be when the claim being tested is vexatious in the first place. It's accurate advice, and it prevents companies selling bottled water from making exaggerated claims for their products, which is a good thing. They even have the support of the British Soft Drinks Association, who tweeted just as this piece was going live with the following statement:

    The European Food Safety Authority has been asked to rule on several ways of wording the statement that drinking water is good for hydration and therefore good for health. It rejected some wordings on technicalities, but it has supported claims that drinking water is good for normal physical and cognitive functions and normal thermoregulation.

    It's also an great opportunity to challenge received wisdom, and to make the point that keeping the human body hydrated is about much more than just drinking tap water when you're thirsty. Unfortunately, it seems a lot of journalists are more interested in promoting second-hand hysteria than informing their readers. Which is a bit sad.

  • Re:Once Again... (Score:5, Informative)

    by eh2o (471262) on Sunday November 20, 2011 @02:53AM (#38114492)

    The FDA has limited resources, they can't evaluate every substance and claim. One of their criteria is possible danger to the public, for example all invasive devices and drugs must be reviewed. The greater the potential danger, the more extensive the review process.

    Homeopathics were "grandfathered in" to the FDA system which gives them their (limited) claim rights.They don't have to prove anything. Since homeopathics pose no danger to the public (as well as arguably no benefit), the fact that the claims are basically false advertising isn't an important enough consequence to the state of public health that the FDA will get involved.

    In the case of the claim about water, its actually false and potentially dangerous from a medical point of view. Drinking water can only prevent the onset of some types of dehydration, since its not electrolyte balanced. For example if your kid is vomiting a lot from the flu, which is definitely a case where they are at risk of developing dehydration, they should be administered something like Pedialyte (under medical supervision).

  • Re:Once Again... (Score:5, Informative)

    by pjt33 (739471) on Sunday November 20, 2011 @03:44AM (#38114632)

    For most consumers of bottled water though, they just see their wallet shrink unnecessarily.

    That's true in the UK, but I'm not sure how true it is for the rest of the EU. I do know that I've stayed in parts of Brittany where the tap water was bad for you (too much nitrate fertiliser runoff); I know that here in Spain tap water contains so much chlorine that it affects the taste; and I know that at 10 cents per litre I spend scarcely any money on bottled water.

  • Re:Once Again... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Teun (17872) on Sunday November 20, 2011 @04:42AM (#38114830) Homepage
    Well said.

    The British press loves running with EU-hating politicians and as a result is just as stupid.

    The article even continued the bent banana and cucumber lie, these were never banned from sale but produce with abnormal curvature could for easy of packaging and transport not be offered as Class 1.

    What this article conveniently leaves out is the bottling companies wanted a claim insinuating BOTTLED water is the best / only way to combat dehydration.

  • Re:Once Again... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Richard_at_work (517087) <richardprice@nOSPam.gmail.com> on Sunday November 20, 2011 @04:57AM (#38114888)

    Actually, you can drink all the water you want and still be dehydrated, if that water lacks the supplements your body is craving (it just tries to get rid of the water quicker rather than retaining it).

    So no, their claim is not 100% accurate and can lead to permanent damage.

  • by ivec (61549) on Sunday November 20, 2011 @06:16AM (#38115180) Homepage

    Through most of Europe, tap water is perfectly drinkable, and healthier that bottled water. So what this European committee ruled on is whether companies selling bottled water have the right to promote them by claiming that they have a therapeutic benefit. I think it's quite ok to reject this claim.

    In my office, we have this big fridge distributing bottled drinks, made available by a company linked to Coca-Cola. It comes with printed claims and brochures explaining what we need to drink at least 4 x 5 dl per day (the machine contains free bottles of 5 dl).
    I'm an MD, and while a liquid intake of 1.5 to 2 liters is generally needed, it is wise to get most of it from the tap, or from soups and vegetables. You can certainly live well without any "drinks" - and premature death is guaranteed to those who would drink four bottles of these sugary drinks every day.

  • by AftanGustur (7715) on Sunday November 20, 2011 @07:31AM (#38115400) Homepage
    You have to read this in context. The EU is banning the claim that water helps fight dehydration, on water bottles.

    Of course Water does fight dehydration, but so does Coka-Cola, Orange Juice as well as most drinks containing large quantities of Water.

    The EU is simply refusing generic statements on products that don't have any distinguishing meaning compared to other products in the same class.

    McDonalds might want to put "Two BigMacs will give you 70% of your daily calories need", which may be true, but it is highly misleading.

    The whole purpose of this EU law is that consumers can trust the statements made by manufacturers are both true and distinguishing for that product compared to others in the same class.

  • by Anarchduke (1551707) on Sunday November 20, 2011 @01:12PM (#38117178)
    interesting. It seems that the bottled water lobby wanted to declare dehydration a disease that was cured or prevented by their water. The EU decided they were full of shit and said no. Here is the text of the decision [europa.eu]
  • Re:Once Again... (Score:4, Informative)

    by jeffporcaro (1010187) on Sunday November 20, 2011 @09:21PM (#38120262)

    Sorry to re-post - all the carriage returns were stripped. I forgot to add HTML. It reads better with some whitespace.

    I'm going to try to to untangle some if the above...

    Some guy somewhere once said that you need to drink 8 glasses of water a day to maintain health. Turns out to be nonsense. For those of us with intact thirst centers in the brain (pretty much everyone reading this, for example), drinking when you are thirsty is all you need. Your body will tell you when you need more liquid by using the thirst mechanism. There are exceptions, as there is a lag before thirst is triggered, so on a hot day when you're exercising aggressively, you can get "dehydrated" and not get thirsty in time to do anything about it, but this is rare, and recent evidence tells us that hydrating aggressively, even in marathons, is overkill.

    The jumble of hyponatremia, hypernatremia, hypertonic, hypotonic, hypovolemia, hypervolemia, isotonia, etc is maybe worth clearing up, although this will be interesting to precisely nobody. Some of the concepts are almost right.

    "hyper" = too much, "hypo" = too little, "iso" = equal.
    "volume" is the quantity of fluid (any fluid, technically) in the system.
    "natr*" = sodium in the system.
    "-emia" = in the blood.
    "tonia" = concentration.

    So, hypovolemia = low volume of fluid in the blood (hypo, vol, emia) Isotonia = equal concentration (in the medical context, meaning concentrations of a solute equivalent to those found naturally in blood). If you drink excessive fluids over an extended time, you overwhelm the kidneys' ability to maintain normal sodium concentrations in the blood, and you end up with hyponatremia. Drinking excessive fluids is usually called "psychogenic polydipsia," which is med-speak for drinking too much water because your brain is bad. The hyponatremia is potentially fatal, and often causes confusion, among other symptoms. Note that it does not cause (at least immediately) hypovolemia - the quantity of fluid in the system is adequate or high, it's the composition of that fluid that's troublesome.

    In this case, one could say that the composition of the blood is hypotonic - there are fewer solutes (particularly sodium) in the blood than normal. This is treated by limiting fluids (reducing solvent, and allowing the kidneys to recover and restore balance), &/or by increasing sodium intake. Pepperoni pizza is a great solution (not kidding - my favorite nephrology professor used to prescribe exactly that). Hypertonic saline is reserved for emergencies. The blood is usually about 0.9% sodium, so a 3x concentrated version of that - typically 3% saline - can be given parenterally (via IV [intravenous], for those of us scoring at home). This is a dangerous treatment, as the brain is susceptible to dangerous/fatal swelling if hyponatremia is corrected too quickly ("cerebropontine myelinolysis," if I remember correctly - I'm a cardiologist, and I haven't thought about this stuff in a long time).

    Not drinking enough fluid results in hypovolemia (commonly called "dehydration"). Usually the sodium levels in the blood measure high ("hypernatremia"), although it's not due to too much solute - it's due to too little solvent. The treatment is to replete fluids (volume), either with a a straw and some water, or with IV hydration. Usually 1/2 NS (saline that's hypotonic compared to normal blood, in this case 0.45%) or even normal (isotonic, 0.9%) saline.

    The rest of the parent's post is mostly on target. Sorry for pedantry.

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