Rx for Readers: Drink water – lose weight?

Research on adults has shown that both refrigerated water and water at room temperature can aid in increasing body metabolism and weight loss.

Woman drinking water 311 (photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)
Woman drinking water 311
(photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)
One company that makes coolers for mineral water has claimed there is new research showing that when overweight children and adults drink cold water, it can reduce their weight by a kilo or two per year. Obviously, the company has the incentive to publicize such a finding.

The question is whether it is true, whether it is the mineral water (or ordinary tap water does the trick) and whether one can put ordinary tap water in bottles in the refrigerator and drink it and benefit.

– T.P., Jerusalem

Dr. Gal Dubnov-Raz, a sports medicine and nutrition expert at the Edmond and Lily Safra Children’s Hospital at Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer, who was involved in research on the drinking of cold water by overweight children comments: Indeed, I led research that was recently published in the International Journal of Obesity. We examined the effects on overweight children of drinking cold water and found that they could lose an average of 1.2 kilos a year if they drank about 1,800 cubic centimeters of cold water daily. This relates to the average 10-year-old, and this amount of water is equivalent to three or four individual bottles of soda or other drinks sold in kiosks and stores. The amount of weight lost over a year is therefore significant.

However, our research – as far as we know the first of its kind – refers solely to pure water: mineral water and probably tap water. There is no obligation to drink water dispensed by coolers or sold in bottles or to drink mineral water. Ordinary water is fine, as inferred from other studies involving water drinking and weight reduction.

Twenty-one overweight children were included in our study. We gave them water cooled at 14º to 17º. The children’s metabolic rates were measured before and after they drank the water over the course of 60 minutes. Their metabolic rate rose by up to 25 percent at the peak, which was reached an hour later.

Other research on adults has shown that both refrigerated water and water at room temperature can aid in increasing body metabolism and weight loss. One could think that just drinking water fills up the stomach and makes the drinker less able to overeat. This is true, but it is not the only factor. There are other factors involved in the weight loss, including metabolic and neurological ones, and not only the fact that one has less appetite. For example, studies in adults found that drinking salt water does not produce this effect.

Drinking juice or soft drinks does not have any beneficial effect, as they contain large amounts of empty calories. We studied the effect solely of water. Plain water has no calories, but a glass of standard juice contains 90 calories; the more sweetened it is, the more calories it contains, while soft drinks also contain artificial coloring and sweeteners, which are not desirable.

In addition, drinking carbonated beverages, which contain acid, increase the risk of dental cavities, especially in children.

Finally, both adults and children must be careful not to drink too much water, as it could cause “water poisoning” in which the vital salts are leached out of the body.

My 67-year-old husband seems to me not to hear as well as he used to, but he denies it. What are the objective signs of hearing loss?
– R.N., Hod Hasharon
Ruth Sharon, a senior hearing and communications specialist who works for a hearing aid company, replies: Family members can help someone suffering from hearing loss by pointing it out gently that he is having difficulty understanding them. This can be enough to get him to seek professional help.

They can also support him emotionally during the period in which he gets used to a hearing aid.

The signs of hearing loss are: Does the person ask others to raise their voice or repeat what they said? Does he say that people are mumbling or not speaking clearly? Does he have difficulty understanding whispers? Does he have trouble understanding people on the phone? Does he avoid talking in a noisy or crowded place? Does he have trouble understanding who is talking to him in a meeting? Do his hearing abilities embarrass him when meeting new people? Has he become irritable? Has his hearing caused him to visit people less than before? Is it easier for him to understand what men say to him than what women say (because of the lower tone)? Rx for Readers welcomes queries from readers about medical problems. Experts will answer those we find most interesting. Write Rx for Readers, The Jerusalem Post, POB 81, Jerusalem 91000, fax your question to Judy Siegel-Itzkovich at (02) 538-9527, or e-mail it to [email protected], giving your initials, age and place of residence.