Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


College of Psychology

First Advisor

Jessica V. Valenzuela

Second Advisor

Christian DeLucio

Third Advisor

Paula M. Brochu

Fourth Advisor

Elizabeth Pulgaron


adolescents, children, chronic disease prevention, sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) consumption, water consumption


Reducing sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) consumption has been identified as a chronic disease prevention strategy in children and adolescents (Muth et al., 2019; USDA & HSS, 2015) and promoting healthier alternative beverage options has become an important focus for public health policy and educational efforts. Community-driven school-based health initiatives targeting SSB consumption have shown promising outcomes however, few studies have explored these strategies for middle school students and less is known about the potential benefits of these efforts with racial/ethnic minority youth.

The present study examined whether racial/ethnic differences in SSB consumption existed in a sample of 419 students at one middle school. Additionally, we explored whether student’s exposure to a community-driven and school-based initiative targeting SSB and water consumption predicted changes in beverage consumption and the differential effects of the campaign for certain student subgroups. Participants completed surveys about their SSB and water consumption prior to the one-month “30-day water challenge” and again post-campaign. In addition, direct lunchtime observations provided qualitative information of kinds of SSBs most frequently consumed by students.

Our findings highlighted significant racial/ethnic disparities in SSB consumption. Pre and post-test comparisons of SSB and water consumption revealed no statistically significant changes, however, determinants of change in consumption following the one-month campaign were observed. Clinical implications and future directions are discussed.

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