STUDY: OSNAP increases children’s water consumption during afterschool snack time and identifies contextual factors important for success

An HPRC study increases children’s water intake during snack time with stronger effects for programs with kitchens, low child-to-staff ratios, experienced directors, and improved school support.

National data suggest that children are not consuming enough water, and evidence has linked increased water consumption to obesity prevention. The Out of School Time Nutrition and Physical Activity Initiative (OSNAP) trial—a Boston-based effectiveness trial conducted in a real-world program setting—found increases in children’s water consumption. The study also investigated the influence of implementation factors on an intervention to increase children’s water consumption The four key factors identified as important for implementing successful afterschool interventions to increase water consumption are:

  • an experienced site director
  • a low child-to-staff ratio
  • strong school support
  • an on-site kitchen

“Children who attended sites with on-site kitchens and low child-to-staff ratios had greater increases in water consumption than those with satellite kitchens and high child-to-staff ratios. Site director characteristics also influenced the effectiveness of the intervention: children who attended a site led by a director with two or more years of experience had greater increases in water consumption than children at sites with less experienced directors. No factors related to the neighborhood community context significantly influenced the intervention’s effectiveness. However, children at sites whose directors reported improvements in school support for nutrition efforts from baseline to follow-up had greater increases in water consumption than those at other sites.”

These factors point to the importance of considering organizational capacity, provider characteristics, and community context when evaluating and applying public health interventions. Additionally, the results of this study further establish the effectiveness of the OSNAP intervention.

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Lee RM, Okechukwu C, Emmons KM, Gortmaker SL. Impact of implementation factors on children’s water consumption in the Out-of-School Nutrition and Physical Activity group-randomized trial. *New Dir Youth Dev. 2014 Sep;2014(143):79-101.

*This paper was published as part of a special issue. A Practical Guide to the Science and Practice of Afterschool Programming. The volume was developed “to be useful for afterschool program personnel and scholars who study afterschool programming.For afterschool program personnel, it can be used as an education and training tool for in-service professional development activities and discussions. For scholars it may be used in higher education settings as a framework and activity guide to organize student coursework and fieldwork experiences. It may also pinpoint those areas where research is needed to provide the afterschool workforce with essential and desired knowledge.”