Whether it’s packaged in plastic or glass, store-bought water charms big bucks out of misguided but well-meaning African-American or Latino parents who believe the bottled beverage is better for their children, according to a study published in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine and reported by Reuters.

A poll of more than 600 parents visiting an emergency department in Milwaukee found that three times more African-American and Latino kids drank only bottled water at home compared with their white counterparts.

These poll findings support earlier research about parents’ drinking water preferences, but they also offered a new explanation about why 25 percent of African Americans and Latinos give their children bottled water compared with only 8 percent of white parents.

What’s the explanation? Well, researchers found that not only do minorities believe bottled water is safer, cleaner and better-tasting for their kids, but they also found it to be more convenient than tap water.

These beliefs, however, aren’t grounded in fact, said Marc Gorelick, MD, vice chair in emergency medicine at the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, and lead study author. “Most bottled water is just purified tap water—there really aren’t any more nutrients in it,” Gorelick said. “There is no real advantage to bottle water, but there might be some disadvantages.”
And those disadvantages are environmental, financial and biological. Tap water is a key source of fluoride, which can help keep kids teeth strong—so skipping tap water means missing this fluoride source. What’s more, some research showed that kids who down more bottled water experience more diarrhea. In addition, bottled water is more expensive, ranging from a few dollars per gallon to more than $20.

What this means is that people with limited resources end up spending money on bottled water that could be used for more important things, Gorelick suggested.

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