Health experts issue warning over viral #WaterTok trend

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Wednesday 19th April 2023

Health experts have issued a warning over a new viral trend known as #WaterTok. The trend, which has garnered more than 103 million views on TikTok, claims to encourage hydration by making water more appealing. While staying hydrated is vital for optimum health, health experts have warned that the #WaterTok trend could potentially be extremely damaging.  Influencers and TikTok users have shared videos and recipes showcasing sweetened water-based drinks as part of a ploy to make drinking water more attractive. The problem is that most of the recipes contain ingredients that are damaging to health and stray far from conventional hydration techniques.

Examples of #WaterTok recipes that have attracted millions of views on social media include Birthday Cake water, Pina Colada water and Peach Ring water. To create these new drinks, influencers are encouraging users and followers to add super-sweet ingredients, including Skittles, Starburst and candy-inspired powders. In many cases, influencers are sharing recipes for large volumes, with videos showing them sipping from big, brightly coloured flasks and bottles. 

The new trend has provoked anger among health and dental professionals, with many warning of the potential dangers of drinking sugary liquids and acidic drinks. Dr Abdul Matin Azizi, principal dentist at Harley Private Dental, explained that the recipes are likely to damage the teeth and increase the risk of decay, enamel wear and acid erosion. Many of the products used in the videos contain a huge amount of sugar, as well as additives and citric acid, which contributes to tooth erosion. Erosion causes heightened sensitivity and it can also elevate the risk of cavities and dental pain. Food dyes used to make the drink more visually appealing can also stain the teeth leading to discolouration.  Dr Matin Aziz urged TikTok users to be mindful of the effects of consuming sugary drinks and suggested sticking to plain water or sugar-free cordial. For those who want to indulge in a treat, it is best to avoid drinking anything sugary or acidic between meals and to rinse thoroughly with water after drinking. 

Dental health problems are not the only issue linked to the #WaterTok viral trend. Dr Al-Imran Khan, a GP from Mercuri Health, warned that sugar-laden water-based drinks could also lead to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. Even the low-sugar versions, which contain additives and flavourings rather than sugars, can pose problems. They offer little in the way of nutritional value and artificial sweeteners can also put people at risk of heart disease and early-onset diabetes.

Nutritionist, Silvia Micheletti, from Rainbow Labs, also shared concerns about drinks that are marketed as healthy alternatives to fizzy drinks and juices due to their reduced sugar content. Many flavourings, she explained, contain maltodextrins, which are heavily processed carbohydrates that contain starch. These artificial flavourings can cause blood sugar levels to spike and they have been linked to a diverse range of health issues, including type 2 diabetes, fatty liver disease, autoimmune conditions and cardiovascular illnesses. They can also elevate the risk of weight gain, mood swings and fluctuating energy levels. 

Dr Khan encouraged people who are looking to drink more water to choose natural ingredients, such as a slice of lemon. Lemon is acidic, however, so it’s best to avoid drinking lemon water between meals for dental health reasons. Eating and drinking sugary and acidic foods throughout the day can accelerate enamel erosion, as bacteria feed on the sugars, causing them to release acids. These acids weaken the enamel and irritate the gums. 

The best way to stay hydrated, according to health experts, is to drink water throughout the day. Ideally, adults should consume around 2 litres of water per day. Using a flask and carrying a bottle around with you can make it easier to hit hydration targets. A poor diet is one of the leading causes of dental decay in children and adults. It is also a risk factor for type 2 diabetes, heart disease, obesity and some forms of cancer.