-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger
After a three year investigation, European Union officials have concluded that there is no evidence to prove that water can prevent dehydration. Bottled water producers are now forbidden by law from making such a claim. The European Food Standards Authority (EFSA) refused to approve the statement that “regular consumption of significant amounts of water can reduce the risk of development of dehydration.” Critics have said: “This is stupidity writ large.”
The ridicule has been non-stop. But there are some important details being overlooked.
Dehydration is not just a lack of water, hypotonic or hyponatremic dehydration is caused by a loss of electrolytes, primarily sodium. The most common state of dehydration in children is due to acute gastroenteritis. In this case, drinking water is not going to reduce the risk of developing dehydration.
Oral rehydration therapy is indicated for those experiencing dehydration caused by diarrhea, such as caused by cholera or rotavirus. A solution of salts and sugars taken by mouth have saved millions of children around the world. Dehydration caused by diarrhea is the second leading cause of death in children under five.
In extreme cases of dehydration, vomiting can prevent replenishment of necessary water and electrolytes via drinking. In this case fluid replacement by intravenous or intraarterial therapy is necessary.
The Scientific Opinion of the EFSA found that: “the proposed claim does not comply with the requirements for a disease risk reduction claim pursuant to Article 14 of Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006.” Article 14 states:
… for reduction of disease risk claims the labeling or, if no such labeling exists, the presentation or advertising shall also bear a statement indicating that the disease to which the claim is referring has multiple risk factors and that altering one of these risk factors may or may not have a beneficial effect.
Clearly the proposed bottled water label contains no reference to multiple risk factors, as required when making a claim about reduction of disease risk. Dehydration can have multiple risk factors. Drinking water only helps reduce one of these risk factors.
While it is amusing to ridicule government bureaucrats, the record on this story indicates a severe case of laziness, or blind adherence to a political ideology that government is bad and European government is worse.