UBC Undergraduate Research

Healthy Beverage Initiative Huang, Renee; Laird, Marika; Leung, Tracy


The University of British Columbia (UBC) aimed to explore opportunity for a Healthy Beverage Initiative (HBI) to promote tap water consumption and limit the sales of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) (Parr and Toor 2). SSBs are defined as any drink that has various forms of sugar added in, including, but not limited to sodas, fruit drinks, sports drinks, energy drinks, sweetened waters, and coffee and tea beverages with added sugars (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention n.p.). The hope was that implementing a HBI at UBC would create a more sustainable and supportive environment to make informed decisions around beverage consumption on campus. The University of California San Francisco (UCSF) implemented a HBI where they eliminated all sales of SSBs and created a video to promote their HBI (“UCSF Healthy Beverage Initiative”). Our research goal was to obtain student feedback from a minimum of 50 UBC students by watching the HBI promotional video conducted by the UCSF. Our first objective was to identify student attitudes and perceptions towards the UCSF HBI video. Our second objective was to develop recommendations to inform the implementation of a HBI at UBC. To meet our project objectives, we conducted a literature review to address specific issues related to a HBI. We also used secondary data sources to better understand planned or implemented strategies to reduce consumption of unhealthy beverages and/or increase consumption of healthy beverages. Lastly, we conducted randomized interviews at the following 10 locations on campus: AMS Student Nest, Agora Café, Henry Angus Building, Forest Sciences Centre, Buchanan B, Wayne and William White Engineering Design Centre, Neville Scarfe Building, Place Vanier Residence Commonsblock, Acadia Park Residence Commons block and UBC Life Building. Our interviews were 10 minutes in length and we had an interview success rate of 52.08%. Thus, we conducted 50 interviews with undergraduate and graduate UBC students of various programs and year levels. Following their written consent, we recorded qualitative data on their perspectives, reactions and opinions on both the UCSF HBI and video in an Excel spreadsheet. Each participant was entered to win one of two $25 UBC Bookstore gift cards provided they gave their email. We did our interview data analysis manually and used the results of that and our literature review to inform our recommendations. 74% of the participants found the UCSF video format an effective way to spread the awareness of the health effects of SSBs and were influenced to reflect on their own consumption habits. They liked the clarity, length, statistics/facts, animations/visual appeal of the video and 32% reported wanting to change their consumption habits after watching it. Also, 56% of UBC students said they liked UCSF replacing SSBs with healthier beverage options and 62% of all participants said they would support a HBI at UBC. Therefore, we suggest using a video for UBC’s HBI, but making the following changes: adding subtitles, changing the information context for Canada and UBC, and involving media experts in its creation. In addition to the video, we suggest adding other formats to more efficiently and effectively educate students on the HBI. Finally, involving community members in the implementation process and partnering with UBC Building Operations and Sustainable Engineering to install filtered water fountains would best support a HBI at UBC. Disclaimer: “UBC SEEDS provides students with the opportunity to share the findings of their studies, as well as their opinions, conclusions and recommendations with the UBC community. The reader should bear in mind that this is a student project/report and is not an official document of UBC. Furthermore readers should bear in mind that these reports may not reflect the current status of activities at UBC. We urge you to contact the research persons mentioned in a report or the SEEDS Coordinator about the current status of the subject matter of a project/report.”

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