Saf Health Work.  2017 Dec;8(4):327-328. 10.1016/j.shaw.2017.07.001.

Should Workers Avoid Consumption of Chilled Fluids in a Hot and Humid Climate?

Affiliations
  • 1National Critical Care and Trauma Response Centre, Darwin, NT, Australia. matt.brearley@nt.gov.au
  • 2Thermal Hyperformance, Howard Springs, NT, Australia.

Abstract

Despite provision of drinking water as the most common method of occupational heat stress prevention, there remains confusion in hydration messaging to workers. During work site interactions in a hot and humid climate, workers commonly report being informed to consume tepid fluids to accelerate rehydration. When questioned on the evidence supporting such advice, workers typically cite that fluid absorption is delayed by ingestion of chilled beverages. Presumably, delayed absorption would be a product of fluid delivery from the gut to the intestines, otherwise known as gastric emptying. Regulation of gastric emptying is multifactorial, with gastric volume and beverage energy density the primary factors. If gastric emptying is temperature dependent, the impact of cooling is modest in both magnitude and duration (≤ 5 minutes) due to the warming of fluids upon ingestion, particularly where workers have elevated core temperature. Given that chilled beverages are most preferred by workers, and result in greater consumption than warm fluids during and following physical activity, the resultant increased consumption of chilled fluids would promote gastric emptying through superior gastric volume. Hence, advising workers to avoid cool/cold fluids during rehydration appears to be a misinterpretation of the research. More appropriate messaging to workers would include the thermal benefits of cool/cold fluid consumption in hot and humid conditions, thereby promoting autonomy to trial chilled beverages and determine personal preference. In doing so, temperature-based palatability would be maximized and increase the likelihood of workers maintaining or restoring hydration status during and after their work shift.

Keyword

Fluid consumption; gastric emptying; hot and humid conditions; hydration; occupational
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