Anti-Science EU: Water Does Not Prevent Dehydration
    By Hank Campbell | November 18th 2011 12:43 PM | 27 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
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    The EU is everything that can go wrong with bloated, inclusive bureaucracy.  Their proposed constitution had bits of bizarre legal fluff like 'children have a right to be heard', they don't want a strong currency because it damages their individual, heavily subsidized economies if they have to pay more to stay competitive and they make being anti-science into an art form.

    A short while ago they sent the public into a panic by declaring X-ray scanners couldn't be used because they might cause cancer - hey, I don't want to be X-rayed either but if the EU really cares about preventing cancer related to travel, they should simply limit the number of times any European can fly per year.  Being 35,000 feet in the air is a lot more dangerous than 3 seconds in an X-ray machine.

    Now, after three years (yes, that is years) of debate they have issued an edict stating that no water sold in the EU can claim to protect against dehydration. In other words, water will not keep you from dehydrating, which is the one thing we know water can do.  Meanwhile, homeopathy products, which are nothing but supposedly magic water foisted off on gullible people that can't actually do anything other than hydrate the people who buy it, remains a multi-billion dollar industry over there.

    These weren't goofy politicians, this was a panel of 21 scientists of the European Food Safety Authority’s panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies that determined water doesn't work.  What was European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso supposed to do?  Not sign it and be called anti-science?  He signed it, even if he likely thought it was a joke. Now, if you claim water works for dehydration you can go to jail for two years.

    Their reasoning?  Reduced water content in the body is a symptom of dehydration rather than a risk factor that drinking water could control.

    Poor water.  Now it is culturally orphaned like the EU's 1995 law that banned curved bananas and ugly carrots. If you are trapped in the desert and dehydrating, please be advised that, if you drink water, these EU committee scientists will ridicule you and call you a Flat Earth Holocaust Denier.  If I am ever in a European hospital for dehydration, I still hope my nurse is anti-science and gives me some H2O.

    I don't want to be too hard on these guys, they do some positive things; they issued another edict declaring that a strain of GMO corn, scientifically optimized to not need chemical pesticide, is not bad - for the environment, anyway.  It's still not legally cultivated, though, because the EU public makes U.S. progressives look absolutely enlightened in their anti-science kneejerk reflexivity.


    LOL.  They must think it can't mutilate your thirst because it does not have electrolytes. 
    I imagine their discussions would have looked like this. 

    Science advances as much by mistakes as by plans.
    Sure, laugh about electrolytes but I am told Gatorade stopped providing thirst aid to underquenched African nations because of an ungrateful public.
    Science advances as much by mistakes as by plans.
    Charles Darwin is taking a walk in a zoo.  Suddenly, he espies a most unhappy-looking chimpanzee in a cage.  Being a kindly man, he goes up to it and makes enquiry.

    "What ails you, my good ape?" he asks.

    "It's all right for you, mate" replies the chimp, lugubriously.  "Your ancestors voted to leave the Evolutionary Union!"

    * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

    Figure 18 from Charles Darwin's The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals. Caption reads "FIG. 18.—Chimpanzee disappointed and sulky. Drawn from life by Mr. Wood."

    (from Wikimedia Commons.)
    Now, now, Hank! No need to 'kill' EU for everything, just because they say water doesn't work. :-)

    Norway is not member of the EU so I guess I can be considered unbiased, at least when I defend the EU. Or maybe not. Anyways, I agree with the EU if they say we should not be X-rayed or otherwise be further exposed to those ridiculous so-called security regulations.

    Anybody who really wants to blow up a plane can do so no matter how many regulations we torture passengers with.

    But, I do the same as you - stray far afield. The story about the water is an achievement I'd say. Funny and sad at the same time. ;-)
    Bente Lilja Bye is the author of Lilja - A bouquet of stories about the Earth
    I write way too many articles criticizing American politics so I wanted to spread the love to Europe. :)
    1. Your article fails to accurately convey the EFSA panel's finding, the original text of which is easily found. You appear to rely entirely on the misleading story at the tabloid Express website. Perhaps it's unsurprising, then, that you begin your piece with a broadside against the EU. It is obviously not true that, as you write, "if you drink water, these EU committee scientists will ridicule you and call you a Flat Earth Holocaust Denier." But your hyperbolic disdain is matched by the Express, which ridicules the panel for supposedly needing "three years of analysis" before reaching "their extraordinary conclusion."

    You and the Express may be enamored of the wisdom of your politics and the cleverness of your polemical slant. In both articles, I find them at best a distraction.

    The EFSA panel's subject was not whether drinking water is healthy. It was about whether a specific product claim should be permitted. The proposed claim was that "regular consumption of significant amounts of water can reduce the risk of development of dehydration and of concomitant decrease of performance." In disapproving the proposed claim, the panel observed that "dehydration is a condition of body water depletion. The proposed risk factors are measures of water depletion and thus are measures of the disease. The proposed claim does not comply with the requirements for a disease risk reduction claim pursuant to Article 14 of Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006."

    In other words, dehydration is a "condition of body water depletion." Therefore "body water depletion" is not a "risk factor" for dehydration but is itself dehydration. Therefore it is not permissible to claim, with respect to the cited regulation, that "regular consumption" of water reduces a "risk factor" for dehydration.

    It's that simple. There's nothing unhealthy about drinking enough water when it's needed, of course, and the panel never said there was. But neither is it true that "regular consumption" of Water Brand X, without reference to the body's need for appropriate and timely water consumption -- which changes with activity, electrolyte balance, temperature and perspiration -- "reduces the risk of development of dehydration."

    2. Speaking of distractions, Science 2.0 apparently allows advertisers to imbed your webpages with self-starting moving pop-up audiovisual commercials. I'm sure Saint Lucia is a lovely place, but not when it's following me around the webpage and blasting out of my speakers without asking me first. Bloody annoying.

    You're finding a way to rationalize a ridiculous assertion; that being hydrated does not prevent dehydration.  It was goofiness on a technicality instead of common sense.  People are ridiculing them (again) because it is silly.
    Thor Russell
    Perhaps they really just wanted to pass a law that said that people that purchase bottled water regularly are idiots! Their goal is probably to reduce the amount of money that people spend on brand name water when they clearly don't need it. Non-labelled non-marketed water is probably 10* cheaper at least and just as good. Maybe the bottled water is imported, and some of their less financially and mentally endowed citizens waste money on it, so they see it as a way to introduce a back door tariff and protect people from their own stupidity at the same time.
    Thor Russell
    Gerhard Adam
    It isn't really about bottled water.  It's about making health claims under the regulations governing disease reduction.
    The Panel considers that the proposed claim does not comply with the requirements for a disease risk reduction claim pursuant to Article 14 of Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Gerhard Adam
    Actually it's not silly from the scientific perspective.  The silliness is because of marketing.  Science isn't claiming that hydration doesn't prevent dehydration.  What they are saying is that dehydration isn't a "disease" against which risks can be mitigated against by the consumption of a particular food (i.e. water).

    It would be like marketing air with the promise that it mitigates against the risk of death.  In the same way, death can't be claimed to be a "disease" just as air can't be claimed to be responsible for reducing the "risk" of the purported "disease".

    Mundus vult decipi
    This is exactly what the EU issue is about, it is NOT about if water prevents dehydration.

    Gerhard Adam
    The proposed claim was that "regular consumption of significant amounts of water can reduce the risk of development of dehydration and of concomitant decrease of performance."

    In other words, dehydration is a "condition of body water depletion." Therefore "body water depletion" is not a "risk factor" for dehydration but is itself dehydration.
    Wow, I'm not sure I've seen more careful parsing of a statement outside of political circles.  Since dehydration is a "condition of water depletion" then it follows that consuming water reduces the "risk" of such a condition. 

    However it appears that the conclusion they reached is probably correct although the path couldn't have been sillier.  It seems that this is simply the result of ridiculous legal posturing, regulations, and the vagaries of marketing.  In short, the problem begins by classifying water as "food" and then trying to bring in the marketing on the auspices of a "reduction of disease risk claims".  Consequently since dehydration can't properly be called a "disease" and water is not really a "food", then the marketing doesn't fall within the guidelines.
    The food that is the subject of the health claim is water. The Panel considers that water is sufficiently characterised.

    The Panel notes that dehydration was identified as the disease by the applicant.

    The Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006 defines reduction of disease risk claims as claims which state that the consumption of a food “significantly reduces a risk factor in the development of a human disease”
    While this is correct, I can't imagine a more foolish discussion to be having. 
    Mundus vult decipi
    This is frustrating, why are you SCIENCE BLOGGING when you don't go to the SOURCE and interpret the source. When someone calls you out on it, you claim they are rationalizing yet you didn't even read the source article!

    This is really lazy writing and you should be ashamed. It is articles like this that give science writing a bad name.

    Head back to the sources and make version 2, you let yourself get in the way of actually learning what happened.

    Is this really a science website?

    (If you're dehydrated, water won't help much, you need salts too)

    We heard from the Gatorade marketing department at last...
    In short they say that you need to drink something with electrolytes.    
    So this is how the world ends per the prophecy of  Mike Judge, not with a bang, not with a whimpper, but with a resounding duuuuuuuuuuh. 
    Science advances as much by mistakes as by plans.

    Conclusion : this information is a fake.
    How could you REALLY believe this is true ? oO
    I can't understand...

    Bt, this information is EVERYWHERE on the web know.
    GG 4Chan which lauch first this...

    It's not fake. They wrote about the claims that "regular consumption of significant amounts of water can reduce the risk of development of dehydration" that "the proposed claim does not comply with the requirements for a disease risk reduction".

    So what will prevent dehydration, since water cannot?
    Please, read...
    The law is for avoid abuse, nothing more. It will not

    Some bottled water does NOT prevent deshydratation. That's all.

    It is the same "weird law" than whith the drinks with no added sugar... Which WAS rich in sugar (cause it was fruit juice)...
    But maybe in US you can say what you want in advertisement... But i don't think so.
    And pizza are vegetables, yayaya... NOT.
    Same crap : people just know how to read the law and legal decision (i don't speak about the "article" you found on the internet)

    It's a gibberish decision, the same kind of EU bureaucratic silliness that banned ugly carrots.
    In the USA pizza = vegetables.
    In the USA women are not allowed to wear trousers (it is is the law, even if it is not applied)...
    You can name it...
    So what ? If EU is crazy, USA is what ? oO

    That's the same issue :
    If you twisted an information you can make it say everything.

    Please, just read the original info, the pdf linked into The Guardian.
    Btw, obvious troll is obvious, i give up. I can't win against the really strong argument which is "i am right, even if i don't read the original text write by the EU"...

    The original PDF is linked.  I even quoted it.   I agree an archaic law from 100 years ago, like women in some cities not wearing pants, is funny - but this was from the EU recently, so it isn't quite the same.  You can argue that claiming water stops thirst is intellectually proper for some meandering committee - I think we all wish they would ban homeopathy instead.
    I don't speak about old law. This is in the law nowadays. You can check if you want =).
    Btw, i have better to do but you can continue to speak alone if you want, you surely have a lot to say.

    (i thinked obvious troll was obvious but it seems i was not enough obvious, obviously...)

    A very basic example can disprove the claim that "regular consumption of significant amounts of water can reduce the risk of development of dehydration and of concomitant decrease of performance."

    Diarrhea kills millions of children from dehydration in the developing world each year, usually caused by cholera infections. Drinking bottled water will NOT reduce the risk of dehydration from diarrhea, because it does not replace the sodium (electrolytes) that are lost from the body. Without adequate sodium levels, the body will not absorb any water you drink in order to maintain a proper salt balance in the blood and cells, and your dehydration is not prevented or cured in any way.

    The health claim is flat out false, and IMO declaring the EU decision is unscientific is a slap in the face of the many doctors and scientists who have saved millions of lives developing rehydration therapies for cholera treatment. Cholera treatments are not just some marketing gimmick from Gatorade to sell electrolytes, they save millions of lives each year, and they certainly wouldn't have been developed if plain water was effective. People wouldn't die from cholera if drinking some water was all it took to rehydrate the body. Electrolytes aren't important for most first world conditions of dehydration, but they are imporant (LIFE SAVING) when you are suffering from life threatening dehydration.

    Simply: regularily consuming significant quantities of bottled water will not reduce your risk of dehydration from cholera, or help in most cases of life threatening dehydration.

    The statement rejected by the EU is therefore wrong.

    Drinking bottled water will NOT reduce the risk of dehydration from diarrhea, because it does not replace the sodium (electrolytes)
    Kind of a non-argument since no one claimed water prevented cholera.  You further go on to claim that Gatorade will prevent cholera deaths, which would be funny if it were written by The Onion - but not so funny when it comes to saving lives.
    No, they claimed water prevented dehydration without specifying any conditions or cause. Sure, drinking water will replentish water loss, and water loss is a form of dehydration, but not all dehydration is caused by water loss exclusively. If the claim specified "drinking water can reduce the risk of dehydration from water loss" then it'd be correct but it doesn't specify this.

    I don't claim gatorade will save lives from cholera, however, oral rehydration therapy is a scientifically designed and proen method used to treat cholera dehydration and is effective because it replentishes electrolytes as well as lost water. The ideal way to do so is a solution of glucose, sodium and potassium salts, determined by a lot of work by various scientists and doctors. Gatorade is similar in composition in that it's a solution of sugar and sodium/potassium salts, however that doesn't mean it's an effective treatment either if the ratios are wrong.

    Whether or not Gatorade makes marketing claims about electrolytes (and that it's likely electrolyte containing drinks are unnecessary even for advanced athletes and Gatorade is all marketing buzz), it doesn't change the fact that electrolytes are essential in treating some forms of dehydration when combined with glucose or other rapidly digested carbohydrates high in glucose. Pure water will not in this case.

    By my same argument, you couldn't claim "oral rehydration therapy will treat dehydration" without specifying the cause, because if the dehydration is from having too much salt in the body then it won't help while pure water will. To treat dehydration effectively the salt and water balance of the body, or it's loss must be determined to decide on the appropriate course of action.

    "Oral rehydration therapy is an effective treatment for dehydration caused by cholera." is correct.

    "Oral rehydration therapy is an effective treatment for dehydration." is not correct.

    "Drinking water can reduce the risk of dehydration from water loss." is correct.

    "Drinking water can reduce the risk of dehydration." is not correct.