(CBS) Is bottled better? Experts say bottled water is no safer than tap water, but a new survey suggests that minorities aren't getting the message - and may be wasting money that could be better spent on other things.
The survey - based on responses from 632 parents who visited a hospital emergency department in Milwaukee - showed that black and Hispanic children are three times more likely to drink bottled water than white kids. When asked why they gave bottled water to their kids, the minority parents said they thought bottled water was safer, cleaner, better-tasting, or more convenient.
But experts say those parents are all wet.
"Most bottled water is just purified tap water - there really aren't any more nutrients in it," study author Dr. Marc H. Gorelik, professor of pediatric emergency medicine at the Medical College of Wisconsin, told Reuters Health. "There is no real advantage to bottled water, but there might be some disadvantages."
Unlike tap water, bottled water may not contain significant quantities of fluoride, which helps prevent tooth decay. And studies have shown that kids who drink bottled water are more likely to have diarrhea than those who stick with tap, according to Time magazine's Healthland blog. A study by the national Resources Defense Council found that 17 percent of bottled water contained high levels of bacteria, and 22 percent contained levels of arsenic and other toxic chemicals too high to pass strict safety standards, the blog reported.
The authors of the study - published online in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine - argued that drinking bottled water might help explain the health disparities between minorities and whites. The survey showed that minorities spend about $20 a month on bottled water, compared to $12 for whites. Roughly twice as many minorities than whites said their bottled water habit forced them to cut back on other expenditures, according to Time's blog.
"These are really disadvantaged people," Gorelick told Reuters. "I would argue that people should save their money and drink tap water."
What do you think?