UBC Undergraduate Research

UBC Tap Water Study Chen, Benson; Wong, Dorothy; Soobotin, Krista; Karami, Negar; Chan, Sara


Sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) are the highest source of added sugars in the Canadian diet (Government of Canada, 2018a), and university-aged adults are the demographic that consume the highest amounts of SSBs (Di Sebastiano et al., 2020). SSB intake of UBC students is concerning due to their negative impact on health. One way that UBC organizations are addressing SSB intake is by promoting tap water. UBC Wellbeing launched the Healthy Beverage Initiative (HBI) and related UBC Drinks Tap Water campaign to promote tap water consumption and reduce SSB intake. FNH 473 Group 7 conducted a Tap Water Study in collaboration with UBC Social Ecological Economic Development (SEEDS) Sustainability Program, UBC Food Services, and UBC Wellbeing. The goal was to gain insight into UBC students’ beverage choices and perceptions, both on- and off-campus, to inform UBC’s tap water campaign. Short-term objectives include providing survey results on beverage consumption habits of UBC students. Medium- and long-term objectives include this study being used to inform UBC programs and policies to increase tap water consumption and reduce SSB intake. Survey results consisted of 161 complete responses, the majority of whom reported drinking water daily, and many participants (n=70) reported choosing tap/fountain water. 10% of survey participants did not believe their tap water was safe to drink at home, while 23% of survey participants did not believe that tap water was safe to drink at UBC. When asked to select the main factors that influence drink choices, taste and nutrition were revealed as the top factors influencing their intake. To evaluate the project process, quantitative indicators include the number of survey channels used and the number of survey responses received (n=161). The five channels used included Facebook and WeChat group chats, Canvas class emails, Instagram, class announcements, and peers of team members. Qualitative process indicators include whether the survey results were useful for the community partners and whether they gained knowledge from our findings. To evaluate the project outcomes, two indicators: (1) whether the findings were used in future interventions and (2) whether the findings helped achieve a 50% reduction in SSB consumption on the UBC Vancouver campus, which can be used in the future to assess the survey impact. 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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