freelance journalist, print journalist, online journalist, copywriter, content editor, freelance editor, health and lifestyle, blogger Eight glasses a day is 'nonsense' says GP | Christine Morgan - Journalist
+44 (0)7931 342850

Finally! Someone has taken a stand against the dictatorial eight-glasses-of-water-a-day rule that most people in the health profession seem to be slavishly committed to. Writing in the British Medical Journal, Glasgow GP Margaret McCartney questions why doctors tell their patients to drink more water when – in her opinion – there is little evidence that the recommended 1.5 to 2 litres a day gives any health benefits whatsoever (unless, of course, you have recurring kidney stones or some other medical condition that requires you to drink more). She actually goes so far as saying that the six to eight glasses of water a day recommended even by the NHS, no less, “is not only nonsense, but is thoroughly debunked nonsense”.

Give that GP a slap on the back for challenging what has become standard issue medical/lifestyle advice. But advice that has little to no medical evidence behind it, apparently. I myself have given credence many times to the six-to-eight-glasses-of-water-a-day axiom in articles I’ve written. Well, if the NHS recommends it, then it must be right. Right?

So who or what is behind this, perhaps misguided, advice, especially as – in Dr McCartney’s words – there are several studies that fail to show any clear benefit from drinking that amount of water? Perhaps someone could trace it back and pin down the culprit – some sort of association or individual with a vested interest, perhaps? Well it wouldn’t be a surprise. The organisation Hydration for Health, for one, is often quoted in the press and recommends 1.5 to 2 litres of water a day, even suggesting that “even mild dehydration plays a role in the development of various diseases” (which is enough to send any riskfactorphobe scurrying towards the nearest bottle of designer fizzy). But guess what? Hydration for Health is an organisation created by Danone, the French food manufacturer that produces Evian and Volvic bottled waters. If that’s not a vested interest, I don’t know what is.

Drinking water is, in my experience, a generational thing. As an adult, I have always been aware of how much I drink, thanks to the constant bombardment of the six-to-eight-glasses a day message. Yet older people – of my parents’ generation, for instance – may rarely drink a glass of water. They may well drink several cups of tea a day, but would hardly ever reach for a glass of pure water unless they were feeling particularly thirsty. You’d never catch my mother clutching a bottle of water on a day out or a shopping trip, for instance. Whereas I rarely leave home without one. So is my mum suffering from any of the problems associated with not drinking the recommended amount of water a day? Is she heck.

So well done Dr McCarthy for highlighting what may well be, as you say, a load of nonsense. It had to be said.