The UK water dispense industry enjoyed a record year in 2021, reported Zenith Global to the WHA. The sector saw overall dispenser placements installed increase by 5% to 785,000 whilst revenues increased by 13% to £184 million. The success story is remarkable given difficulties affecting the sector during the Covid pandemic.
Full details of the pattern of growth and recovery in 2021 are reported here along with some fascinating predictions for the future of the sector.
The Water Dispenser & Hydration Association (WHA) has funded a new borehole construction project to bring safe, hygienic water to a village in Africa, by donating to the charity, Just a Drop.
The charity has used monies raised by WHA members to build a borehole that is already transforming the lives of nearly 300 people in Machilika Village in Zambia. This is the 6th such borehole programme funded by the industry.
Until now, the Machilika community’s main source of water was a well that would often run dry, forcing people to draw water from a stream using unsanitary containers. During the dry season, people had to walk up to 5 kilometres to fetch vital water – taking up to 2 hours to obtain this basic commodity. Now it takes just 20 minutes.
The water from both the stream and the well caused water-borne disease. Children were often too unwell to attend school and adults were prone to illness preventing them from earning a living.
Work on building the borehole began in June 2021 and the project management team has also installed a hand pump and provided training for the people in the village. The training includes maintenance, sanitation awareness, and financial management.
The WHA’s general manager, Philippa Atkinson-Clow, said: “We are delighted to support this cause. One of our sector’s previous associations, the BWCA, began this support programme, and when it merged with another association, EDWCA, to form the WHA I was delighted that our new Executive Council decided to carry on the good work. As a trade association, members have not only raised money through the WHA for Just a Drop but have inspired a ‘ripple effect’ with several initiating their own projects for the charity.”
Jon Wicks, WHA chairman, said: “In the UK, access to clean water is taken for granted. I am proud of our industry for responding to fund-raising challenges enabling us to build another borehole. It means that another village community is now healthier and avoid the risk of drinking contaminated water; children can spend time at school because they are sick less often and because they don’t have to collect water; and adults in the village can avoid spending so many hours every year fetching water. ‘Just a drop’ of water is so much more than just a health-giving drink: initiatives like this transform lives by increasing educational and economic opportunities and improving well-being for all. I thank our members for their generosity especially at a time when business has been challenging. I am proud of what we’ve achieved so far.”
Fiona Jeffery OBE, founder of Just a Drop, said: “We are delighted to be working with the WHA to enable more communities in Zambia to access safe water. Their support is truly making a huge difference.”
In his BBC Radio Four series, Just One Thing, Dr Michael Mosley gives tips on simple actions that can immediately begin to improve our health: just one thing can improve your mental and physical health and, in one episode, he said that one thing is drinking water with every meal.
Opening the programme, he said: “It’s lunch time and I am about to do just one thing that can boost my concentration, boost my energy levels and keep my skin healthy. I’m drinking a glass of water.”
There are many confusing messages about how much we should be drinking, he said, commenting that sticking to tea, coffee and soft drinks may not be a great idea.
So how much should we be drinking? Dr Mosley said: “Well for most of us all we need to do is have a glass of water with every meal. It’s that simple. Keeping hydrated can improve attention and problem solving, it can improve your mood, help you keep calm and alert, improve your skin, and even help you lose weight.”
Keeping properly hydrated can make a big difference to our brains, our physical performance and our overall health. The human body 60% water but the brain is made up of 90% water. We need water to digest food and help our kidneys to flush out waste. It is important to replace the water we lose. Even mild dehydration can cause 1-2% loss of our body’s water and this can impair cognitive function, pointed out Dr Mosley. He added: “Studies have shown that drinking water can improve short term memory and working memory and drinking water can significantly reduce regular headaches. If you are playing football, it could improve your performance. And last but not least, it could help with weight loss.” He cited a scientific study which showed that a group dinking half a litre of water before each meal ended up consuming fewer calories and lost the most weight compared with another control group.
For those who find the idea of drinking a lot of water rather daunting he was reassuring: “If you love water, go ahead,” he said, “but there really is no need to go mad. For most of us just adding an extra glass [of water] with every meal is probably enough. A lot of us aren’t even doing that. Relying on tea, coffee and other caffeinated drinks is okay but although the first few cups will hydrate you, research suggests there is a tipping point where these drinks start to become a diuretic and you actually lose more water than you gain.”
He turned to an expert, Dr Stuart Galloway, Professor in Exercise Physiology from the University of Stirling, to clarify any confusion about the important role of water asking him, “What is water doing to your body and brain?” Dr Galloway said: “We need water to undertake a number of processes and because we are constantly losing water throughout the day through breathing, sweating, urine loss, we need to replace that with water from drinks and from our foods. If we don’t’ replace the fluid we can have impaired mental performance, impaired physical performance and feelings of fatigue, for example.” He cited what he described as an interesting study in older adults where mortality was found to be greater if they were admitted to hospital in a dehydrated state. “The consequences of having inadequate water intake can be very severe to mild or moderate.”
Dr Galloway said the European fluid intake guideline is for around 2 litres a day of fluid (not necessarily water) for a man and 1.6 litres for a woman. He offered some good advice: “Your urine colour along with the number of times you go to urinate is a good guide. Often people fall a bit short of the recommended intake because they fall short of drinking just plain water so a glass of water with your meal is a good way of ensuring you meet your daily fluid intake targets.”
So if the number of times you go to the loo is a good guide, what is the advice? Both Dr Galloway and Dr Mosley said that if you are going for a ‘wee’ 5-7 times a day you are probably drinking the right amount of fluid. If you are only going 3-4 times a day, you’re probably not drinking enough; and if you’re going 7-8 times a day you’re probably drinking too much.
Dr Galloway said that milk is also excellent for rehydration but agreed that milk contains a significant amount of calories. He said “So you don’t want to do that [drink milk] if you want to lose weight but it can be a good idea post-exercise.”
He added that with regard to caffeinated beverages such as coffee and tea you can include these in a balanced diet. “You can have [coffee] as part of your hydration goal. It is a bit unclear as to when it starts to have a diuretic effect but it seems to be about 400-500 mgs of caffeine which is equivalent to about 4-5 reasonably strong coffees.”
It has been suggested by some pundits that the best way to measure whether you need to drink is whether you are thirsty. Dr Mosley asked if that was an adequate guide. The short answer was ‘no’.
Dr Galloway explained that: “In humans when you feel thirsty you are already down about 1-2% loss of your total body mass as water and that is quite important because as little as 2% loss can affect some of your abilities such as physical endurance abilities and mental abilities, but it can also affect your mood state – whether you feel fatigued for example.”
It’s all a question of making drinking water part of your daily routine, they concluded.
Dr Mosley said: “Making sure I drink a glass of water with every meal has topped me up and I think I can focus a bit better. Just one thing you can do to cut down on headaches, boost your sports performance, and help you think more clearly. This is just one thing you could incorporate into your daily routine which really could benefit your body and life. Cheers.”
Drinking water with every meal is just one thing you can do to improve health
Top tips from the experts
Make sure you urinate 5-7 times a day
Drink before you are thirsty
Don’t let your fluid levels drop as even a 2% loss can impair mental and physical performance
Caffeinated drinks are okay in limited quantities but then have a diuretic, not a re-hydrating, effect. Milk is good unless you are trying to lose weight in which case water is best.
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