Water Filter Helps Some Hispanic Families Drink Less Soda, Sugary Drinks, Study Finds

The George Washington University study looked at the water drinking habits of dozens of families in Maryland and Washington, DC

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Researchers at George Washington University say there could be a simple solution to help low-income Hispanic families drink more water and less soda and other sugary drinks.

The study examined how much water 92 families in the D.C. area drank. Participants told researchers they were turned off by the taste of tap water, and they would only drink bottled water, if they could afford it. But many in the study said they opted for cheap, sugary drinks instead of water.

“From the beginning, nobody drank tap water. It was, basically, zero consumption on average," said Dr. Uriyoán Colón-Ramos, the lead researcher of the study.

Colón-Ramos and her team surveyed predominantly Hispanic families in Langley Park and Gaithersburg in Maryland and in D.C.

They gave each of the families a simple water filter pitcher that they could use to purify their tap water.

Colón-Ramos said they were surprised by the impact the filter had on the families in just three months.

“Something that’s super low-cost gave them more confidence in the tap water just to be able to drink it," Colón-Ramos said.

The study separated the families into two groups. Both groups received water filters, but one group was specifically educated on the health risks of consuming sugary drinks.

Researchers found that the filter still made a difference for the group that only received the water filter. Parents in that group reduced their consumption of sugary drinks by 8 ounces per day, on average, and increased their consumption of water by 5.6 ounces, according to the study. For the children, their consumption of sugary drinks decreased by 1.6 ounces and their water consumption increased by 2.2 ounces each day.

“What was surprising to us was that they both, both groups significantly decreased the sugary-drink consumption," Colón-Ramos said.

Colón-Ramos said she hopes the findings can be used to shape future public health policies, and increase access to clean water for low-income families.

“It wasn’t so much a problem about education, but more about motivation and supporting them to make that decision," she said.

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