Water turnover among human populations: Effects of environment and lifestyle.
OBJECTIVES:To discuss the environmental and lifestyle determinants of water balance in humans and identify the gaps in current research regarding water use across populations. METHODS:We investigated intraspecific variation in water turnover by comparing data derived from a large number of human populations measured using either dietary survey or isotope tracking. We also used published data from a broad sample of mammalian species to identify the interspecific relationship between body mass and water turnover. RESULTS:Water facilitates nearly all physiological tasks and water turnover is strongly related to body size among mammals (r2=0.90). Within humans, however, the effect of body size is small. Instead, water intake and turnover vary with lifestyle and environmental conditions. Notably, despite living physically active lives in conditions that should increase water demands, the available measures of water intake and turnover among small-scale farming and pastoralist communities are broadly similar to those in less active, industrialized populations. CONCLUSIONS:More work is required to better understand the environmental, behavioral, and cultural determinants of water turnover in humans living across a variety of ecosystems and lifestyles. The results of such work are made more vital by the climate crisis, which threatens the water security of millions around the globe.
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