Michelle Obama is an extremist and radical provocateur. Her latest pronouncement is especially provocative, controversial, even un-American. Politico's Josh Gerstein caught up with the First Lady at a high school in Watertown, Wisconsin, where she dangerously claimed
I've come to realize that if we were going to take just one step to make ourselves and our families healthier, probably the single best thing we could do is to simply drink more water. It's as simple as that. Drink just one more glass of water a day and you can make a real difference for your health, for your energy and the way that you feel.
Now she has gone too far!
A kidney specialist at the University of Pennsylvania, Dr. Stanley Goldfarb, argued
I think, unfortunately, frankly, they're not basing this on really hard science. It's not a very scientific approach they've taken...To make it a major public health efort, I think I would say it's bizarre..... The idea drinking water increases energy, the word I've used to describe it is: quixotic. We're disingned to drink when we're thirsty... There's no need to have more than that.
The president of the American Public Health Association, Dr. George Benjamin, cautioned "There is a lot of controversy about how much water you need to drink as water. I think certainly you should be drinking as much fluid as you need" (which, presumably, would be coffee, soda, or, better yet, scotch and soda).
And, of course, Rush Limbaugh, who claimed "Big Bottled Water, or Big Bottled Water is Big Soft Drink. That's who's pushing this." Ever the populist, he seemed to be calling for a Million Oil Baron march on Washington, remarking
You know, I've always been amazed. The price of bottled water is far more expensive if you measure it by the gallon. When you go to the store and buy it, it's far more expensive than a gallon of gasoline.
The guys that produce the water don't have to do anything. They don't have to drill for it, they don't have to explore for it, they don't have to get permission from the government to go do things wherever they want. They don't scour the world. They don't have to go down 5,000 feet below the ocean floor to get it. They just turn on somebody's tap, and they claim it comes from some spring. I always thought if I was in the oil business, I'd really be ticked off that the bottled water guys are able to charge that much.
Rush Limbaugh's mega-mansion lies in Palm Beach in southern Florida on its east coast. It's a well-populated area, where gasoline apparently costs less than the $1.00-$1.50 per gallon charged almost everywhere for bottled water. It faces an unparalleled population boom as tens of thousands of his listeners descend on the area to take advantage of $1 gallon gasoline. It's back to the future, circa 1980!
But though Rush clearly needs to get out more, his argument about "the price of bottled water" is intended to divert attention from Obama's aim. She did not recommend individuals pick up a gallon or 24-pack of Deer Park, Nestle's, Poland Spring, Dasani or any other specific brand-name product. She did not advocate even the consumption of bottled water in general and, as available evidence has it, is not pimping for any company.
She's merely promoting the ingestion of water- from a bottle, straight from the tap, filtered from the tap, however you want it. And while Gerstein notes "the new pro-water drive has the support of bottled water companies, tap water providers, reusable bottle makers and companies that provide water filtering equipment," he adds "as a price of admission to the campaign, they've been required not to criticize one another or other beverage choices." Doubtless, though, Obama is aware that the high-fructose corn syrup commonly used in soft drinks not artificially, sweetened is a major cause of numerous ailments, including (but not limited to) heart disease, obesity, cancer, dementia, liver failure, and tooth decay... when used in moderation.
Obama probably has at least a working knowledge, moreover, that, as a reporter for The Daily Beast explained
One recent report in General Dentistry found that heavy consumption diet soft drinks can erode teeth as much as much as crystal meth or crack cocaine. A 2012 study found that drinking a diet soda every day can lead to strokes, heart disease, and is often associated with other unhealthy behaviors. And a 2010 study found a link between women who drank diet soda while pregnant and the risk of preterm delivery.
Perhaps drinking more water won't give any one person a sudden or prolonged burst of energy, desired weight loss, or a lifespan akin to that of Methuselah (definitely not that one). But skeptics of this facet of Michelle Obama's "Get Moving" campaign appear to be missing the forest for the trees. Human beings will drink- beer, whiskey, wine, fruit juice, "fruit drinks," coffee, tea, or whatever their beverage of choice. Obama is not ordering anyone to drink anything, nor even trying to shame people into consuming a particular item. She is merely advocating what is, for most people and for the nation, the most healthful choice.