A Water Availability Intervention in NYC Public Schools: Influence on Youth Water and Milk Behaviors.

Elbel B, Mijanovich T, Abrams C, Cantor J, Dunn L, Nonas C, Cappola K, Onufrak S, Park S.
American Journal of Public Health. 105(2): 365-372.

Objectives. We determined the influence of “water jets” on observed water and milk taking and self-reported fluid consumption in New York City public schools.

Methods. From 2010 to 2011, before and 3 months after water jet installation in 9 schools, we observed water and milk taking in cafeterias (mean 1000 students per school) and surveyed students in grades 5, 8, and 11 (n = 2899) in the 9 schools that received water jets and 10 schools that did not. We performed an observation 1 year after implementation (2011–2012) with a subset of schools. We also interviewed cafeteria workers regarding the intervention.

Results. Three months after implementation we observed a 3-fold increase in water taking (increase of 21.63 events per 100 students; P < .001) and a much smaller decline in milk taking (-6.73 events per 100 students; P = .012), relative to comparison schools. At 1 year, relative to baseline, there was a similar increase in water taking and no decrease in milk taking. Cafeteria workers reported that the water jets were simple to clean and operate.

Conclusions. An environmental intervention in New York City public schools increased water taking and was simple to implement. (Am J Public Health. Published online ahead of print December 18, 2014: e1–e8. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2014.302221)

Wagner Faculty