Middle School Student Attitudes About School Drinking Fountains and Water Intake

Published in: Academic Pediatrics, v. 14, no. 5, Sep./Oct. 2014, p. 471-477

Posted on RAND.org on September 01, 2014

by Anisha I. Patel, Laura M. Bogart, David J. Klein, Burton O. Cowgill, Kimberly E. Uyeda, Jennifer Hawes-Dawson, Mark A. Schuster

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OBJECTIVE: To describe middle school student attitudes about school drinking fountains, investigate whether such attitudes are associated with intentions to drink water at school, and determine how intentions relate to overall water intake. METHODS: Students (n = 3211) in 9 California middle schools completed surveys between 2009 and 2011. We used multivariate linear regression, adjusting for school sociodemographic characteristics, to examine how attitudes about fountains (5-point scale; higher scores indicating more positive attitudes) were associated with intentions to drink water at school and how intentions to drink water at school were related to overall water intake. RESULTS: Mean age of students was 12.3 (SD = 0.7) years; 75% were Latino, 89% low income, and 39% foreign born. Fifty-two percent reported lower than recommended overall water intake (<3 glasses/day), and 30% reported that they were unlikely or extremely unlikely to drink water at school. Fifty-nine percent reported that school fountains were unclean, 48% that fountain water does not taste good, 33% that fountains could make them sick, 31% that it was not okay to drink from fountains, and 24% that fountain water is contaminated. In adjusted analyses, attitudes about school drinking fountains were related to intentions to drink water at school (β = 0.41; P < .001); intentions to drink water at school were also associated with overall water intake (β = 0.20; P < .001). CONCLUSIONS: Students have negative attitudes about school fountains. To increase overall water intake, it may be important to promote and improve drinking water sources not only at school but also at home and in other community environments.

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