We're obsessed with Diarrhea (with apologies to Chelsea Clinton).

Saving Lives through Improved Taste.

  • Diarrheal diseases are effectively treated by oral rehydration therapy (ORT).
  • 750,000 children die from diarrheal disease annually.
  • Inadequate compliance may be due to inherent bad taste of standard oral rehydration solution (ORS).
  • Soda and sports drinks are often used in favor of medical grade products due to superior taste profiles.
  •  These products not only worsen the diarrheal disease process, they delay definitive treatment.
  • A pleasant tasting ORS increases uptake,  saving more lives. 

Oral Rehydration Solution is a low cost medical breakthrough that has saved millions of lives through a simple solution: salt, sugar, and water. Yet thousands of people are still unnecessarily dying form dehydration. Why? Investigators have developed a new oral rehydration solution with an enhanced taste to test the role palatability can have in the uptake of ORS and decrease in mortality.

Oral Rehydration Solution (ORS) – A solution with specific amounts of glucose salts and water that is used to treat dehydration due to infectious diarrhea.

Diarrhea kills thousands of children every day – more than AIDS, malaria, and measles combined.[1] Diarrheal disease is the second leading cause of death in children under 5 years old. Globally, there are 1.7 billion cases of diarrheal disease. It is both preventable and treatable.[2] Almost 50% of these deaths are due to dehydration and most involve children less than one year of age.(3)

Treatment of infectious diarrhea is well established.  A mixture of clean water, salt, and sugar; oral rehydration therapy (ORT) safely and effectively replaces fluids and electrolytes. Since WHO adopted Oral Rehydration Solution (ORS) in 1978 as its primary tool to fight diarrhea, the mortality rate for children suffering from acute diarrhea has fallen from 5 million to 750,000 deaths annually.  Oral rehydration salts, and when necessary, intravenous fluids and electrolytes, if administered in a timely manner and in adequate volumes, will reduce fatalities to well under 1% of all patients.[4]

Despite the success of oral rehydration therapy, its proven efficacy and recommendations for use by numerous international organizations,[5] studies show that ORT continues to be underutilized globally.  One postulated reason is that despite its life saving properties, there is inadequate compliance due to poor taste.[6,7] With sodium as a primary component, ORS tastes very salty, making it more challenging to get children to drink when sick. 


  1. Liu L, Johnson HL, Cousens S, Perin J, Scott S, Lawn JE, Rudan I, Campbell H, Cibulskis R, Li M, Mathers C, Black RE; Child Health Epidemiology Reference Group of WHO and UNICEF. Global, regional, and national causes of child mortality: an updated systematic analysis for 2010 with time trends since 2000. Lancet. 2012; 379(9832): 2151-61.
  2. Diarrheal Disease, Fact sheet No 330, April 2013, World Health Organization
  3. World Health Organization: The Challenge of diarrheal and acute respiratory disease control. In point of Fact No 77. Geneva: World Health Organization 1996: 1-4.
  4. CDChttp://www.cdc.gov/cholera/treatment/rehydration-therapy.html Accessed March 19, 2015
  5. Duggan C, Santosham M, Glass RI: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: The management of acute diarrhea in children: oral rehydration, maintenance, and nutritional therapy. MMWR. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 1992, 41 (RR-16): 1-20.
  6. Santosham M: Oral rehydration therapy- Reverse transfer of technology (editorial). Arch Pediatric Adolesc Med 2002, 156:1177-9
  7. te Loo DM1, van der Graaf F, Ten WT. The effect of flavoring oral rehydration solution on its composition and palatability. J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2004 Nov; 39(5): 545-8.