STUDY: Drinking Water in the United States: Implications of Water Safety, Access, & Consumption

A new study from researchers at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, Stanford Medicine Division of General Pediatrics, University of California Nutrition Policy Institute, and Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University was published today in the Annual Review of Nutrition.

Plain water is recommended to replace sugar-sweetened beverages to support health yet concerns about tap water safety and barriers to access present challenges to making water the beverage of choice. A new article reviews evidence through a socioecological lens – considering the complex web of individual, relationship, community, and societal factors that influence water consumption. The paper reviews intake of drinking water in the U.S. compared to requirements across age and racial/ethnic groups, showing that most people do not drink enough plain water. It describes U.S. regulations that support safe drinking water as well as strategies to reduce drinking water exposure to lead. Programs, policies, and environmental interventions that support access to safe and appealing drinking water, which is necessary to improve water intake, are also discussed, concluding with recommendations for research, policies, regulations, and practices needed to ensure optimal water intake by all.

Additional reading:

Patel AI, Hecht CE, Cradock AL, Edwards MA, Ritchie LD. Drinking Water in the United States: Implications of Water Safety, Access, and ConsumptionAnnual Review of Nutrition 2020;40:1,345-373.

Address correspondence to Angie Cradock,