Water Security Experiences and Water Intake Among Elementary Students at Low-Income Schools: A Cross-Sectional Study



      To examine students’ experiences of water security at school and how experiences relate to intake of water from different sources of water at school.


      In this cross-sectional study, 651 students in grades 3 to 5 in 12 low-income public elementary schools in the San Francisco area completed surveys about their daily intake of water from different sources of water at school, experiences of water security including safety, cleanliness, and taste of water at school, and their demographics. Multivariable linear regressions examined associations between students’ water security experiences at school and reported intake from different sources of water at school.


      Approximately half of students were Latino (56.1%) and had overweight/obesity (50.4%). Most (74.5%) had some negative water security experience at school. Students drank from the school fountain or water bottle filling station a mean of 1.2 times/day (standard deviation [SD] = 1.4), sinks 0.2 times/day (SD = 0.7), tap water dispensers 0.2 times/day (SD = 0.6), and bottled water 0.5 times/day (SD = 1.0). In multivariable linear regression, students with more negative experiences of school water security drank less frequently from fountains (-0.5 times/day, P value < .001), but more frequently from tap water dispensers (0.1 times/day, P value = .040) and sinks (0.1 times/day, P value = .043), compared to students with no negative perceptions.


      On average, students had negative school water security experiences, which decreased their consumption of water from tap water sources. However, relationships between negative water security experiences and reported water intake appeared to be mitigated by water source. Schools should consider installing more appealing water sources to promote water intake.


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