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

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


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).


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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