Does America have a drinking problem? Michelle Obama pushes water.

Michelle Obama is traveling Thursday to Watertown, Wisc., and hitting the talk-show circuit to push her latest health initiative for America: Drink more water. 'It's really that simple,' she says.

Jacquelyn Martin/AP/File
First lady Michelle Obama speaks to mayors and other officials about the initiative, 'Let’s Move! Cities, Towns and Counties,' in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on the White House complex in Washington, July 10, 2013.

First Lady Michelle Obama is adding a third pillar to her healthy eating and exercise platform: She wants Americans to drink more water.

“ ‘Let’s Move,’ meet ‘Drink Up,’ ” suggests the Washington Post.

The first lady, accompanied by actress Eva Longoria, will travel Thursday to Watertown, Wisc., – locational pun intended – to make her pitch. She is hitting the talk show circuit – “Today,” “Good Morning America,” “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” and more – and she is involved in the launch of a new site:

Sam Kass, the White House senior policy adviser for nutrition who runs “Let’s Move!” says the project represents something simple we can all do every day to improve our health.

“We think that a positive, forward-leaning visionary campaign to inspire people to drink more water is going to be the most effective way to help people get the amount of water they need,” Mr. Kass said in a conference call with reporters, per the Washington Post. “We are going to keep it positive from start to finish.”

Who could argue with something so basic? We all know we’re supposed to drink eight to 10 glasses of water a day. Especially in the hot summer months. And, of course, we’re all made of water – 60 percent of the human body is composed of that purest of liquids.

“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,” Obama said in a press release. “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.”

So the White House might be unprepared for the wash of humor – and criticism – that could meet Thursday’s news of the endeavor.

“Michelle Obama hypes ‘Drink More Water’ Plan,” reads one Weekly Standard headline. And, after all, what will Jon Stewart and his late-night pals have to say about these latest water works?

Water is routinely touted as helping to do everything from reducing obesity rates to clearing troubled skin. But Politico is reporting that some experts see the pitch for more water drinking as bunk. Naysayers suggest most people should drink when they're thirsty and that they get the additional water they might need from foods, such as juicy fruits.

“There really isn’t data to support this,” said Dr. Stanley Goldfarb of the University of Pennsylvania. “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 effort, I think I would say it’s bizarre.”

At times, Obama has been knocked for pushing a nannyesque ‘eat your vegetables’ policy agenda. Others have suggested this self-declared mom-in-chief also has a Harvard Law degree and the intellectual heft to promote more substantive causes. At least in some corners of the political world, this latest flow of H2O advice from the East Wing could fuel both attacks.

The critics might crow: What’s next? Flotus gets on the oxygen bandwagon?

But as with everything that comes out of the first lady’s office, this campaign has a collection of backers, including the American Beverage Association, Partnership for a Healthier America, and more than two dozen water companies. Those who want to participate at home are asked to photograph themselves “raising a glass of water” and to Instagram it with #DrinkH2O. The shot then appears on the project’s site.

Look out, milk lovers and soda fiends. There’s a new beverage trending. Obama could be the best thing that happened to “plain water” since the plastic bottle.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 43 percent of adults drink fewer than four cups of water each day, and 7 percent don’t drink any at all. The AP, on the other hand, notes a boost in overall water consumption.

Meanwhile, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is reporting that more than 1,500 Watertown High School students will greet the first lady this afternoon to help her launch the nationwide effort.

"Who would not be interested in meeting any first lady of the United States?" said Watertown schools Superintendent Cassandra Schug. "I just think this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for our students."

But the paper also noted that a local bar, Rusty Nail, is featuring a message in advance of Obama’s visit. “Save Water, Drink Beer,” its sign reads.

of stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Unlimited digital access $11/month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.