Michelle Obama Already Under Fire For Water Drinking Effort

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Is there anything Michelle Obama can do that won’t draw attacks from someone? The First Lady has long been a vocal advocate of healthy eating, drawing assaults from conservatives who accuse her of trying to dictate American diets.

Now Mrs. Obama is launching a campaign to persuade Americans to drink one extra glass of water every day — and she’s getting slammed for that, too.

She is scheduled to appear in Watertown, Wisc., today — the town twice singled out for having the best-tasting water in America — to kick off her “Drink Up!” campaign. Actress Eva Longoria will also be there to down a glass of water or two.

Numerous TV personalities are also expected to take part in the campaign.

“40 percent of Americans drink less than half of the recommended amount of water daily,” said Sam Kass, White House senior nutrition policy advisor.

A Center for Disease Control study in 2007 found that 7 percent of Americans drink no water at all on a daily basis, while 43.7 percent drank fewer than 4 cups of water per day. Just 22 percent consumed at least eight cups per day.

Eight cups per day has traditionally been a recommended amount, but recent studies show that it might not be such a hard-and-fast rule. A 2002 study in American Journal of Physiology said simply that people should be sure to drink when thirsty.

As reported on the WebMD medical web site, a 2004 study by the Institute of Medicine recommended between 11 and 12 cups per day for women, over 15 cups per day for men. But those recommendations include all water intake, from beverages and food, not only consumption of plain water. About 20 percent of an average person’s daily water intake comes from food.

“Frankly, they’re not basing this on really hard science,” Stanley Goldfarb, a professor of medicine at University of Pennsylvania, told the news site Politico. “To make it a major public health effort, I think I would say it’s bizarre."

Conservatives are already responding to the effort.

“Even if Michelle Obama is right about drinking more water, when did it become politicians’ jobs to tell us what to eat and drink?” inquired the web site Mr. Conservative. “America is supposed to be the Land of the Free. If people want to make poor food choices, they should be allowed to.”

But backers of the effort stress that the purpose of the campaign, unlike for example New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s effort to ban large, sugar-filled soda drinks, is not to tell Americans what they can and cannot drink.

“We are going to keep it positive from start to finish,” said Kass.

The First Lady is asking people to visit the web site for information about water and to upload pictures of themselves drinking glasses of the stuff.

SOURCES: Washington Post, Politico, The Atlantic, Mr. Conservative, WebMD, Center For Disease Control