Everyone’s Resolution Is to Drink More Water in 2020

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Water is pretty boring, as far as beverages go. It doesn’t have a catchy jingle, a secret family recipe or even a taste, really. Yet people can’t seem to get enough of it.

“I get people in my office every day, every week, saying something like, ‘I’m concerned I’m not hydrated,’” said Lauren Antonucci, a nutritionist in New York City.

Their concerns may be based on conventional wisdom. One well-known recommendation suggests drinking eight glasses of water a day; another warns that if you feel thirsty, you’re already dehydrated.

But anxiety about water consumption could also stem from a different, more philosophical source: Hydration is now marketed as a cure for nearly all of life’s woes.

Water, in recent years, has been imbued with the powers of a mysterious elixir. The latest “it” celebrity’s skin care secret? Oh, just water. Feeling sluggish? You probably need more water. Uninspired and utterly hopeless about your career and romantic prospects? Well, have you had any water today?

People hydrate as if their reputations depend on it. They dutifully carry water bottles with them wherever they go, draining and refilling them with gusto.

Some go so far as to track their consumption in a journal, or with a mobile app. (There’s one that uses a plant as a metaphor for the user’s well-being. Depending on the volume of water one has consumed, it may appear to be thriving or wilting.)

Hydration is the mark of a well-adjusted, successful person. On Jan. 1, Twitter flooded with resolutions to drink more water, including from Twitter’s brand account.

But will more conscious hydration really make for a more productive 2020?

“There’s no evidence that a little bit of dehydration really impacts anybody’s performance,” said Dr. Mitchell Rosner, a kidney specialist at the University of Virginia who studies overhydration in athletes, in a phone interview.

In 2017, bottled water surpassed soft drinks as the top beverage in the United States by volume, with sales up 7 percent over the previous year, according to the Beverage Marketing Corporation, a beverage consulting firm. Since then, sales have continued to rise.

“It’s no accident that it’s No. 1,” said Michael Bellas, the chairman of the Beverage Marketing Corporation. “If you had to put together a perfect scenario and plan how to build a category this would have been it.”

In the 1970s, ad campaigns by Evian and Perrier introduced the concept of bottled water as a high-end refreshment beverage, Mr. Bellas said. Before that, bottled water was sold as a tap water replacement.

These new campaigns helped enable bottled water to compete with other grocery store beverages, like juice, coffee, soda and beer.

By the early aughts, Mr. Bellas said, people weren’t just drinking bottled water while sitting down for a meal. They were drinking it all day. While consumers may have begun to curb their intake of caffeinated or sugary beverages, they had no reason to put a limit on zero-calorie, thirst-quenching water. And they were carrying it around with them, on the go.

“It changed the way beverages were consumed,” Mr. Bellas said. If people were drinking water everywhere, it could be sold anywhere. And it was. Bottled water’s indefinite shelf life and readily available product made its expansion seamless.

But if you haven’t quite hit your quota today, don’t worry: Your 2020 isn’t already ruined. The tasty beverages you thought of as dehydrating, like coffee, tea and beer, are actually hydrating.

“Coffee is a hydrating beverage,” said Ms. Antonucci, the nutritionist. “If you’re drinking it, let go of the guilt. Enjoy it.”