Water is to become the world's favourite bottled drink / JOEL SAGET/AFP/Getty Images

People are partly reaching for bottled water because of obesity concerns

As healthy lifestyles favouring a trip to the gym over a fast food joint become more fashionable, water is set to become the world’s favourite packaged drink.

Bottled water will likely overtake fizzy drinks this year, as over 233 billion litres of the stuff is expected to fly off shelves around the world compared with 227 billion litres of soda.

Just five years ago, only 170 billion litres of packaged water was drunk in comparison to 215 billion litres of pop.

According to research by the Canadean market research group, emerging economies will drive the trend, as consumption in India, China, and Brazil is up around 10 per cent.

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Fiona Baillie, an analyst at market research group Canadean which came up with the figures, explained: “With nearly one-third of the world’s population residing in these countries the impact is significant. Packaged water is often necessary in areas susceptible to flooding or other natural occurrences, as these often lead to water contamination and the spread of diseases.”

A combination of higher temperatures and poor piped infrastructure contributes to this, as it becomes the norm for commuters to carry bottled water with them each day.

People are drinking fewer soft drinks (Image: Getty)

This is in contrast to a 1 per cent spike in popularity in Germany, Italy, France and Spain forecast for this year. Bucking the western trend is the US, which will remain the second foremost consumer of bottled water, as people become more health conscious.

Marco Settembri, chief executive of waters at Nestlé, which sells Perrier-Vittel, told the Financial Times: “There is a huge growth in the water category in the US, driven by concerns about health and obesity.”

The figures come as 2014 marked a decade since the consumption of soft drinks in the US started to decline, falling by 14 per cent, according to Beverage Digest.