Increasing Water Availability During Afterschool Snack

Evidence, Strategies, and Partnerships from a Group Randomized Trial

Many children drink less water than recommended. While tap water is an inexpensive option for children in school, many schools have difficulty accessing safe, potable water during the day and during afterschool activities.

Researchers tested whether an intervention by the Out of School Nutrition and Physical Activity Initiative (OSNAP) could improve the amount of water offered in afterschool programs in Boston. OSNAP is an environmental and policy change intervention based on the social-ecological model and a community-based participatory research (CBPR) approach. Working with school and community agencies sponsoring afterschool programs, OSNAP seeks to improve physical activity and nutrition practices in those settings.

Intervention increased students’ water consumption and decreased an average of 60.9 kcals during after-school snack time.

The researchers conducted the randomized trial with 20 Boston programs—10 intervention programs matched to 10 controls. Using a CBPR approach, staff set goals to improve water-serving practices at snack time, not simply having water available by drinking fountains but providing it in cups, bottles, or pitchers to the students.

The average study program served 72 children, mean age 8 years; 38 percent Black, 11 percent White, and 38 percent Hispanic.