Flavored, fizzy, enhanced waters causing concern

By Jodi Mohrmann, Managing editor of special projects, jmohrmann@wjxt.com
Published On: Jan 04 2014 10:21:52 AM EST
Updated On: Jan 06 2014 07:45:00 AM EST

When you think about drinking water, do you ask yourself, "Nottled or tap?"  Or, do you find yourself thinking, "strawberry, grape, carbonated or sparkling?"  As flavored, fizzy and enhanced waters flood the market, are these added elements actually training our tastes away from regular old H2o?  And, is it good for you?

Jennifer Brody says her kids think regular water is boring, and when she packs a plain bottle of water in her daughter's lunch, it comes back full.

"It doesn't have any flavor to it," said Lilly Brody.

"It's very bland and has no taste whatsoever," added her brother, Jacob Brody.

Both siblings prefer fruity drops and powders to give their water pizzazz.  Even their mom is a fizzy water fan.   So if you find yourself preferring flavors or water with a little carbonated kick, could you actually be training yourself "not" to like regular water?

"We're absolutely fooling our taste buds into craving and almost requiring in some cases a flavoring or a particular sensation when it comes to carbonation," warned Endocrinologist Dr. Joseph Pinzone.

Pinzone says his patients tell him they're drinking more flavored and sparkling water now than ever before.    

"It is allowing them to form habits which actually affect the brain and how we crave things," he said.

Pinzone explains people also crave variety.  And right now, the water market is gushing with options. The American Beverage Association says the trends are all about choice and customizing water to suit your palate.   Twenty percent of households that buy bottled water also buy "liquid flavor enhancers."

"Innovation is really driving the industry right now," said Susan Neely with the American Beverage Association.

But are all these 21st century water innovations healthy?   We found some are loaded with sugar. Vitamin Water power-c contains 32 grams and packs a 120-calorie punch in twenty ounces.  And some zero calorie options contain artificial sweeteners.  But in the flavored water future you may see more natural enhancers.

"You've got food technologists looking at different ways to put sweeteners together. Some new ones with the old ones," said Neely.

Experts say specialty waters can be a tasty treat, but  add that you shouldn't give up "old faithful", good old water.  The key is moderation.

"If you're drinking any single drink once or in small amounts its unlikely to have major health risks to you," said Pinzone.

Jennifer Brody says flavored and sparkling water options won't become water under the bridge at her house, but she will continue to promote the plain stuff too. 

"I don't anything really can replace the value of water," she said.

If you're looking to kick a flavored or fizzy water habit, experts say try mixing a piece of fruit with regular water to give it some zest.

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