Background: Water is essential for life and accounts for about 70 percent of the human body fat-free mass. Daily loss of 2.5 L in temperate climate occurs on least minimal activity while exercises, rises in temperature, illnesses raise the fluid loss. Adequate intake of water is necessary for optimal body functions, development and health. Estimates of water intake shows wide variations depending on factors such as temperature, activity level, availability and accessibility of fluid, fluid type, packaging, and socio-cultural factors.
Context and purpose of study: Residents in the tropics are exposed to high temperatures and loss of excess fluid from perspiration and would expectedly require high fluid intake for normal body function. A cross sectional study was conducted in Aanmbra State, southeast Nigeria to assess the fluid intake of subjects. Two hundred and fifty people were selected by multi-stage sampling technique. They were drawn from employees in government secretariats, banks and artisans engaged in motor mechanic worksites. Using a semi-structured questionnaire, calibrated plastic cups, weighing scale and standiometer, the socio-demographic data, the 24-hour fluid intake, weight and height of the subjects were obtained.
Results: The mean age of the respondents was 36.6±11.5 years. 60.1% (146) were males while 39.9% (97) were females. There were 130 (53.5%) civil servants and 113 (46.5%) artisans. The median 24-hour fluid intake was 3.5 litres with artisans having higher intake than the civil servants. (χ2 =16.57, df=2, p<0.05). The median fluid intake for males was 3.8 litres compared with 3.1 L for females.
Main findings: Less than one quarter of the subjects met the respective WHO recommendations for males and females. About half (47.9%) of the males and 39.2% of the females failed to meet the USA IOM recommendations.
Conclusions: The subjects drank less fluid than people in temperate climes and below international recommendations for moderate activities and for manual labour in high temperatures.
Brief summary and potential implications: Inadequate intake of fluid lead to reduced work/exercise performance, endanger health resulting in impaired cognition, kidney diseases, cardiovascular disorders and dysfunction in blood sugar regulation.
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