November 18/Chicago/NPD Group -- Despite the popularity of such beverages as coffee and soda, water is the top beverage consumed by adults throughout the day, according to new research from The NPD Group.

Many U.S. adult consumers begin their day with a cup of coffee, but as the day goes on, water plays a more important role in satisfying beverage needs. In fact, beginning with the snack occasion that occurs between breakfast and lunch, water represents 46% of all drinking occasions. Tap/filtered or bottled water is the top beverage at lunch and dinner, followed closely by soft drinks.

Younger consumers, on the other hand, are less likely to consume water, NPD's research found. Tap/filtered water’s share of total drinkings is 26% across all meals, but it accounts for only 21% of drinkings among kids. This is due, in part, to kids’ preference for drinking more milk during their meals, as well as fruit-type drinks, which often contain some sugar.

Teenagers, meanwhile, opt for regular (non-diet) carbonated soft drinks with their meals. Soft drinks’ share is 14% during teen meals, compared to 8% for all individuals.

First Lady Michelle Obama recently embarked on a new campaign that encourages kids to drink more water. In launching her campaign, she referred to water as "the first and best energy drink."

"Before this recent push to drink water, First Lady Michelle Obama focused on getting children to move more and burn more calories, and now the focus has shifted to avoiding some calories in the first place," said Darren Seifer, food and beverage industry analyst at Chicago-based NPD. "Beverage companies and retailers can step up and support the effort by promoting the health benefits of drinking water and beverages with little or zero calories to parents and kids."