College Cafeteria Signage Increases Water Intake but Water Position on the Soda Dispenser Encourages More Soda Consumption

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Abstract

Objectives:

To evaluate the effects of improved water location visibility and water dispenser position on the soda dispenser on undergraduate students' beverage choices.

Methods:

Two focus groups with pilot intervention surveys before and after, adding a small sign above the soda dispensers' water button for 6 weeks in a large US university's all-you-can-eat, prepaid dining hall (measured with chi-square tests and logistic and ordinal logistic regression).

Results:

Focus groups included 15 students. Survey participants included 357 students before and 301 after the intervention. After the intervention, more students reported ever having drunk water with the meal (66.4% to 77.0%; P = .003) and water consumption frequency increased (P = .005). Postintervention, the odds of drinking water increased by 1.57. Preference for other drinks was the main reason for not drinking water. A total of 59% of students had ever changed their preference from water to soda.

Conclusions and Implications:

The clear indication of the water's location increased students' reported water consumption. Further investigation is needed into how a non-independent water dispenser influences students' beverage choice. Clearly labeled, independent water dispensers are recommended.

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