Dehydration Obesity Link

A recent study in the Annals of Family Medicine shows a significant association between poor hydration and elevated body mass index (BMI) and obesity. Researchers analyzed BMI and urine osmolality records of adults ages 18-64. A urine osmolality value of 800 mOsm/kg or greater indicates inadequate hydration. Nearly a third of the participants were dehydrated. After adjusting for factors such as age, gender, ethnicity, and the presence of diabetes or other medical issues known to alter urine osmolality, the results show that adults who were inadequately hydrated had higher BMIs and higher odds of being obese compared to hydrated adults.


Study authors note that people with higher BMIs need more water, and hydration deserves greater focus in weight management strategies and research. In addition, dehydration has also been linked to poor kidney function, headaches, and declining physical, mental, and emotional health.


If you think you are not getting enough water, these tips may help:


  • Carry a water bottle for easy access when you are at work or running errands.
  • Freeze some freezer-safe water bottles. Take one with you for ice-cold water all day long.
  • Choose water instead of sugar-sweetened beverages. This can also help with weight management. Substituting water for one 20-ounce sugar sweetened soda will save you about 240 calories.
  • Choose water when eating out. Generally, you will save money and reduce calories.
  • Add a wedge of lime or lemon to your water. This can help improve the taste and help you drink more water than you usually do.


Source: Chang T, Ravi N, Plegue M, et al. Inadequate hydration, BMI and obesity among US adults: NHANES 2009-2012. Ann Fam Med, July/August 2016; 6 (14): 320-324.

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