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UCCE Integrated Approach Increases Students' Water Consumption

The Issue

Over the last four decades, rates of childhood obesity have more than tripled for school-aged youth. Sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) intake contributes to excessive weight gain. Youth's risk for obesity increases an average of 60% with every additional daily serving of soda. In Shasta County 39% of children ages 2-17 consumed one or more SSBs daily and 33% were considered overweight or obese. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans encourage individuals to choose water as the best non-caloric substitute for SSBs. UCCE was ready to mobilize resources and partnerships to improve the health outcomes of Shasta County youth through education, marketing and promotion, and environmental changes that supported water consumption.

What Has ANR Done?

UC ANR Advisors developed eight lessons focused on the health benefits of reducing SSBs and substituting healthier beverages, with an emphasis on tap water. The Team Up for Good Health lessons were delivered to 700 fourth- and fifth-grade students in five low-income schools in Shasta County during 2012-2014. One lesson each year was devoted to increasing the consumption of water. In year one, students learned how the body uses water, calculated their estimated water needs, identified sources of drinking water, and received reusable water bottles. During year two, students used marketing techniques to create posters promoting water consumption; funds were secured for the donation and installation of water refilling stations, a footprint stencil was used to create footsteps leading students to the water stations, and the number of bottles filled with water was recorded. Each lesson included a family letter that reinforced key messages and highlighted the student’s chosen goal to increase water consumption. Events promoting tap water consumption were conducted in the schools and the community.

The Payoff

Water became the beverage of choice more often

The integrated education and environmental intervention was a successful approach to influence healthy behavior by surrounding students and families with consistent messaging to increase the consumption of tap water. Student questionnaires revealed that fewer participating students reported liking to drink soda at the end of the two-year study and more chose to drink water from school water stations as compared to the control students. Teachers reported that students brought fewer sodas and other sugary drinks to school. During the 2012-2013 school year, 35,783 bottles of water were filled representing cost savings to families of $15,029. UCCE partnerships with schools and community groups helped sustain the momentum, which potentially can improve health outcomes to reduce future health care costs for residents.

Clientele Testimonial

“My students consume lots of sugary beverages and unhealthy snack foods. I hope this UCCE intervention will help the students make better choices.” -participating teacher


Supporting Unit: Shasta County

and Team Up For Good Health Project Team
Marisa Neelon, NFCS Advisor, 925-646-6128, mqneelon@ucanr.edu; Concepcion Mendoza, NFCS Advisor, 530-224-4900, cmendoza@ucanr.edu; Anna C. Martin, NFCS Advisor, 209-953-6121, acmartin@ucanr.edu