Objective: Insufficient water intake has been a global health concern as it is linked to numerous adverse health consequences. Risk factors for dehydration include low fluid intake, sun and heat exposure which is a key element especially in the Gulf region. The aim of this study was to identify the prevalence and the impinging factors of hypohydration among college students in UAE.
Subjects and methods: Bioelectrical Analysis Impedance (BIA), attained using BodyStat 1,500 MDD, was used to assess participants' body water levels. Adequate hydration level was defined as body water level of 50-60% for females and 55-65% for males. Alongside this, a scale and a stadiometer were used to measure the participants' weight and height in order to calculate their BMI. A self-administered questionnaire was also used to assess and correlate the test findings with the risk factors, signs and symptoms, and the level of knowledge awareness of the participants.
Results: Of the 201 university students that participated in the study, 41.3% were hypohydrated, 55.7% were well hydrated and 3% were hyper-hydrated. Among hypohydrated participants, 56.6% were females and 43.4% were males, highlighting that females were at higher risk of becoming dehydrated than males. A major factor that negatively affected hydration status was BMI; as BMI increased, water percentage and therefore hydration status decreased. We checked for numerous signs and symptoms that could indicate hypohydration levels, and the following were the top five most prevalent among our participants: dry lips (51.90%), thirst (46.90%), tiredness (46.80%), dry skin (39.70%) and headache (36.90%). According to The Urine Color Chart (Human Kinetics, Champaign, IL, USA), 3.5% were classified as dehydrated, 46% were in danger of getting hypohydration levels while 19.5% were classified as having good hydration levels. There was no significant correlation between water intake and urine colour chart (p = 0.334). Among the study participants, 64.2% acquired their knowledge from internet, 30.80% from TV and radio and 26.90% from books and courses. The behavior aspect of the participants when feeling thirsty, was that 79% of them would resort to water, while 11% resorted to soft drinks and 10% to juices.
Conclusions: The prevalence of hypohydration levels was 41.3% among the study participants of young university students. The main risk factors affecting hydration levels were BMI and gender. This signifies the importance of good hydration habits which were not commonly practiced among students even though they had adequate knowledge regarding the topic. Regular check-ups held intermittently can aid in recognizing those at risk of dehydration and help in educating about the importance of such topic especially regionally.