Giles Quick presented research that showed the consumption of water had risen.
Bottled water producers, cooler companies and utility water companies met in London in October for the Natural Hydration Council (NHC) conference.
The conference, called to debate whether more could be done to improve hydration for life, was the first organised by the NHC since being founded in 2008.
As well as producers, attendees included dieticians, nutritionists, environmental experts and healthcare practitioners, who debated and discussed what more could be done to encourage healthy hydration.
The event opened with Giles Quick, director of Kantar Worldpanel, sharing new research which revealed water is the only drink consumers are drinking more of, with almost an extra million people buying into water this year than they were last year. He also revealed that the number of people who drink both tap and bottled water is limited, with most drinking either tap or bottled water at home. Furthermore, his research showed the majority of people in the UK (59.4%) still only drink just one serving of water or less a day and 80.8% drink no more than two servings of water.
NHC general manager Kinvara Carey and Danone Waters managing director James Pearson then took to the floor to discuss how the NHC has been promoting healthy hydration to help improve the health of the nation. James discussed the need to engage with consumers more effectively and consider impactful packaging as well as healthy hydration messages. He talked about making water the easy choice for consumers and ensuring bottled water is fairly represented to help to drive the NHC’s mission.
A key way the NHC educates is through its dedication to communicating the scientific facts behind healthy hydration. Tam Fry, spokesperson, National Obesity Forum led an animated panel discussion with academics Dr Emma Derbyshire, founder, Nutritional Insight; Dr Rekha Elaswarapu, associate fellow, International Longevity Centre; professor Paul Gately, professor exercise and obesity, Leeds Beckett University and professor Tom Sanders, emeritus professor nutrition and dietetics, Kings College London who discussed different life stages from pregnancy and childhood right through to old age. They all agreed on the need to make drinking water an easy and simple habit to adopt.
Dr Derbyshire stressed the importance of forming habits when children are young. Dr Elaswarapu supported this with an observation that when she was young she was always being told to finish everything that’s on her plate, however; she was never told to finish a glass of water.
The elderly was also a hot topic of discussion. Dr Rekha talked about how this group is more at risk of dehydration as people tend to reduce what they are drinking as they get older; and care providers have a vital role to play in monitoring fluid intake. She called for more to be done to raise awareness of hydration in health and social care settings.
Both Prof Sanders and Prof Gately discussed the role of drinking water to prevent health conditions. Prof Sanders presented some fascinating findings that show drinking plain water may help to prevent kidney and bladder diseases. Professor Paul Gately discussed obesity and called for investment to determine the potential role of water in preventing obesity. Dr Helen Parretti, NIHR clinical lecturer, The University of Birmingham, presented her recent study showing preliminary evidence that drinking water before main meals may help with weight loss. She hopes to undertake more trials on this and if successful this could be a simple message that could easily be disseminated by healthcare professionals and in public health campaigns.
Drew Nannis, chief marketing officer, Partnership for A Healthier America, gave an inspiring keynote address about the Drink Up campaign. Drink Up unites bottled water, filter and utility companies in a consumer-led communication campaign which has led to significant improvements in water drinking rates across the US. He said: “It doesn’t look like a public health campaign. Drink Up leverages brand marketing research from Nielsen and NMI, killer creative from Young&Rubicam NYC and looks to connect with its audience, not educate them. With talking water fountains, music and fashion integrations, and engaging ad campaigns Drink Up has one rule when debating a tactic: If a big brand wouldn’t do it, neither will they.
“Now with more than 50 partners, Drink Up has kept its message simple and positive. It has brought together bottlers, filter-makers, reusable bottle producers and more for one simple, positive mission: drink more water.”
The Drink Up drop graphic was included on more than 1bn products in under a year and its reach has been growing ever since.
The day ended with a thought-provoking talk by sustainability and environment adviser Tony Juniper stressing how important it is to look after this vital resource. He said: “If we wish to have secure high quality water indefinitely into the future then it will be important to do more to sustain the natural systems that replenish, clean and store water. Companies close to water have a key role in this task, offering huge opportunities to secure business for the long terms while at the same time engaging positively with consumers and service users. Water is a part of nature’s circular economy and businesses can build on that by contributing to the emergence of a circular economy in the human world.”
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