Disparities in Tap and Bottled Water Intake Among US Adults

April 20, 2018

Black and Hispanic U.S. adults are half as likely as whites to drink tap water and more than twice as likely to drink bottled water, according to a recent Penn State analysis led by Asher Rosinger, assistant professor of Biobehavioral Health and Anthropology.

 

The findings support past research that indicates that minorities and more vulnerable populations have a higher distrust of tap water in America, and that those who do not drink tap water and instead consume bottled water are at greater risk of health issues and financial burdens.

 

This study found that from 2011 to 2014 nearly 53 percent of Hispanic adults and 46 percent of black adults consumed bottled water on a given day compared to just over 26 percent of white adults. At the same time, more than 61 percent of white adults consumed tap water on a given day, compared to 38 percent of black adults and just over 38

percent of Hispanic adults.

Relying on bottled water creates disproportionate economic burdens and serious health implications among low-income and minority populations. Bottled water costs 240 to 10,000 times more than tap and often does not provide adequate fluoride, which increases risk of dental caries, and bottled water can have higher bacterial counts than tap water.

 

These findings suggest that a lower trust in tap water manifests in dietary behaviors and may result in shifting to bottled water for hydration as well as less healthy options like sugar-sweetened beverages. One note of good news is that the use of water filters was associated with increased tap water intake and may encourage tap water consumption. The study is in press at the journal Public Health Nutrition.

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