H4H Initiative Pilots iPhone App in the UK to Promote Healthy Hydration

Developed as an engaging soft learning tool, 'Thirsty Pete' represents an innovative solution to promote public awareness of the importance of healthy hydration, and encourage behavioural change through game dynamics that demonstrate the physical and mental benefits of adequate hydration. The character, 'Thirsty Pete', is an interactive water droplet and a font of knowledge on water and healthy hydration. After downloading 'Thirsty Pete' to their iPhones, users must care for him by correctly answering quiz questions to obtain virtual glasses of water. If he isn't adequately hydrated, he becomes increasingly unhappy and ultimately 'evaporates'. Users are rewarded for keeping Pete healthy and are given advice to help ensure they also stay well hydrated.

As well as quizzes and other features, there is also a 'Wee Checker' where users can monitor Pete's hydration status - the darker the colour, the more concentrated the wee and the more dehydrated he is. This element is based upon the Hydration Color Chart developed by Professor Lawrence E. Armstrong.


Despite the known benefits of adequate hydration and that it's essential for normal bodily function, many people still may not drink enough fluids[1,2]. Recent surveys suggest that many people, including children, do not drink enough[3]. A UK survey demonstrated that 40% of 11- to 18-year-old children drink less than 1.2 litres per day[4], compared with EFSA guidance on adequate intakes of 2.1 litres and 1.9 litres per day for 9- to 13-year-old boys and girls, respectively[5]. In fact, it's not uncommon for school children to go for 6 or 7 hours without a single drink[1].

Short-term consequences of dehydration include impaired physical and cognitive performance, headaches, raised heart rate and blood pressure. In the long term, it is associated with a range of serious conditions, including urinary tract infections, kidney stones and periodontal disease.

More positively, a recently published study showed that a relatively simple but comprehensive educational intervention programme proved successful for enhancing hydration status in just two days that resulted in improved physical endurance in exercising children[6].

With its mission of establishing healthy hydration as an integral part of public health nutritional guidelines and routine patient counselling, so that people can make informed choices, the H4H Initiative aims to encourage more widespread advocacy of healthy hydration to the general public.

With the UK pilot of the 'Thirsty Pete' iPhone app it is hoped that, by making learning about healthy hydration entertaining and fun, this innovative approach to healthy hydration advice and can help to address the potential long-term health risks associated with poor hydration choices.
Source : sfgate
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