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Health Notes: Water bottle users drink more using bite valve, study shows

In a recent peer-reviewed study, researchers tested which bottle type subjects would drink more water from in a two-week period: a wide-mouth, narrow-mouth stainless steel, bite-valve or a plastic disposable bottle. Find out which one rose to the top.

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You want information about health, physical activity, exercise and wellness, but you don’t want all the techno-science garble that makes most reports overwhelming to read, let alone understand. In SNEWS® Health Notes, an occasional series, we take a look at recent research and explain it in a way that makes sense. If you have suggestions or comments, let us know!

>> Bite-valve bottles helped users drink more over wide-mouth, narrow-mouth stainless steel, or disposable bottles

In a recent peer-reviewed study, researchers found subjects drank significantly more water in a two-week period when using a bite-valve bottle compared to when they used three other bottle types: a wide-mouth, narrow-mouth stainless steel or a plastic disposable bottle.

For the study, a research team of students led by Holden MacRae, Ph.D., professor of sports medicine at Pepperdine University, used a Camelbak Better Bottle (bite valve), a Nalgene bottle (wide mouth), a Klean Kanteen bottle (narrow mouth stainless steel), and an Arrowhead disposable plastic bottle.

“We know so little about water consumption via bottles people carry around with them, and we looked at preference, why people would choose and drink the volumes they do drink,” MacRae told SNEWS®.

Sixty subjects in the study, ages 18-54, used each of the four bottle types in random order for two weeks, with one week between each trial. All bottles used in the research were blue to be sure color didn’t influence use. Logos and brand names, including the paper label of the disposable bottle, were left exposed. During the study, subjects were asked to fill the currently assigned bottle to the top at the start of each day, and then to refill the bottle to the top when it was completely empty. They were then asked to record the number of times they filled it each day and to log remaining fluid at the end of each day.

Subjects, who were also included only if they also participated at least once a week in some kind of physical activity such as backpacking, fitness workouts, walking, running, snowboarding and yoga, also recorded their daily physical activity.

Drank more

Subjects drank 24 percent more water over two weeks when they used the bite-valve bottle compared to when they used the disposable bottles. In addition, they drank 18 percent more than when they used the stainless steel bottles, and 15 percent more than when using a wide-mouth bottle, results found.

“We live a lot of our lives moving from one place to another,” MacRae explained, “and with the bite valve, you can use one hand whereas with every other bottle you need two hands to open it, then you have to tip it (up to drink).

“It’s the way in which the water is being delivered that delivered the advantage,” he added.

Although the study specifically used the Camelbak Better Bottle with the bite valve, one could say the results were applicable broadly to other bite-valve bottles in general, he said. However, not tested was the affect, if any, size or shape of the bottle had on the fluid intake or preference. That means another bite-valve bottle may not deliver precisely the same results.

Preferences not significant

Interesting to MacRae is that the disposable bottle’s results were not in all cases significantly different than the bite-valve bottle’s when it came to preference and use. That means that although results may have been in some areas lower with the disposable, they weren’t always different enough statistically that they could not be attributed to chance.

For example, subjects’ answers showed they did not significantly prefer the bite-valve bottle over the disposable when asked the following questions, but in all of the cases below they did prefer the bite-valve over the wide-mouth and stainless steel bottle:

>> “The bottle is easy to use for drinking.”

>> “I enjoy drinking from this bottle.”

>> “I drink more from this bottle than others.”

>> “I would choose this bottle over any other bottle for drinking.”

>> “This bottle is easy to carry around with me everyday.”

All three types of non-disposable bottles scored significantly higher over the disposable when subjects were asked if they were easy-to-clean or durable.

“If you can provide a delivery system that can improve hydration status,” MacRae said, “then this (Camelbak) bottle has the potential to be that.”

MacRae was paid to do the research by Camelbak; however, all scientific protocol was followed and MacRae designed the research following standards that would allow the research to pass peer review and make it eligible for publication in internationally known sports journals.

So what? Because of ease and comfort, subjects drank a lot more water when they didn’t have to use two hands, open a lid or tip their heads backward. In this study, that preference translated into a bite-valve bottle.

For the scientifically minded: The study was presented Oct. 23-24, 2009, at the Southwest chapter meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine ( and is being prepared to be submitted for publication.

–Therese Iknoian