Drinking more water could be an easy but overlooked way of helping to manage weight for obese individuals according to a new study by the University of Michigan.

Although many studies focus on the role of carbs, fat, sugar and protein in tackling rising obesity levels, a team of researchers from the university are investigating whether this part of our diets could also be linked to a healthier weight.

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To look into the role of hydration further the team studied a nationally representative sample of 9,528 adults age 18 to 64 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES).

They found that around a third of the adults were inadequately hydrated: with obese people and those with a higher body mass index (BMI), who are expected to have higher water needs, more likely to be inadequately hydrated.

glass water

Although lead author of the study, Tammy Chang, acknowledged that the link between hydration and weight is still not clear and needs further research she also noted that the study highlighted an important link between the two, and that it is not the first to suggest that adequate hydration is important for weight management, commenting, “We often hear recommendations that drinking water is a way to avoid overeating because you may be thirsty rather than hungry.”

Chang went on to add that consuming healthy foods with a high water content, such as fruits and vegetables, which are often recommended as part of a healthy weight management plan, could also help to hydrate.

She concluded that despite the need for further research, “Hydration may be overlooked in adult weight management strategies. Our findings suggest that hydration may deserve more attention when thinking about addressing obesity on a population level. Staying hydrated is good for you no matter what, and our study suggests it may also be linked to maintaining a healthy weight.”

The research is to be published in the journal Annals of Family Medicine.