Drink more water. It’s pretty simple advice, the type of thing any health-conscious consumer has probably read at least a dozen times over the last few years. It’d be hard to come up with a less controversial idea, until, of course, first lady Michelle Obama started advocating water.
Last week the first lady unveiled her new “Drink Up” campaign – an offshoot of her healthy “Let’s Move” advocacy to reduce childhood obesity. For “Drink Up” she traveled to Watertown, Wisc., to encourage kids and adults to add a little more water to their drinking habits.
“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,” she said in a statement announcing the program. “That’s it – it’s really that simple. Drink just one more glass of water a day and you can make a real difference for your health, your energy, and the way you feel.”
But according to the right wing’s resident conservative weathervane, Rush Limbaugh, this new campaign is simply “more command-and-control” from the White House.
“We have real trouble, real problems in this country and around the world. What is this push to drink more water?” he quipped on his program last Friday.
The primary scientific critic Limbaugh and a number of news outlets quoted, is Dr. Stanley Goldfarb of the University of Pennsylvania. He’s a nephrologist (doctor who specializes in kidneys) with a long history of bashing the Affordable Care Act.
As Limbaugh pointed out on his show, Goldfarb says there “really isn’t data to support” the claims that increased water consumption can achieve the goals of the “Drink Up” campaign. “To make it a major public health effort, I think I would say it’s bizarre,” Goldfarb said.
So where is Michelle Obama getting this data to support her new program? It comes from the Centers for Disease Control, which has found that one in four children don’t drink any water daily and that nearly half of all Americans are getting less than four cups of water a day.
The new “Drink Up” campaign is focused on positive advocacy, encouraging people to consume more water, rather than telling them not to avoid sugary sodas. And while you might think that positive message would assuage a nanny-state-averse conservative pundit, Limbaugh found a way to hate it anyway. His criticism? The campaign has her cozying up too much with Big Soda.
“It’s Big Bottled Water, or Big Bottled Water is Big Soft Drink,” Limbaugh said. “That’s who’s pushing this.”
As pundit Bill Maher joked on his Friday program, ”I think this is a test to see if the Republicans will come out against water. ‘That’s not water, that’s socialism juice!’”
At least one Republican managed to pass that test. Congrats, Rush.