The Institute of Medicine (IOM) identifies the importance of water consumption and suggested that children need to consume water each day (IOM, 2011). Head Start Performance Standards requires that the children have free access to drinking water throughout the program day (DHHS, 2016a). The first goal of this study was to identify the quantity of water consumed by children during the program day (8am-2pm). This study employed a person-centered approach to explore the water consumption of the children through observations and direct measurement to identify the amount of the water consumed during a program day. Four classrooms from a Head Start center in a southeastern school district were included in the study. A total of 80 children were observed during the program day (8am-2pm) over a period of 8 weeks. Each child was given a water bottle and instructed to drink freely from the water fountain or the water bottle. In the classroom, water intake from the water fountain and water bottles were recorded. The second goal of this study is to examine profiles of the water consumption from both the school and at home. A person-centered approach combined the individual data of water consumption, from both observation and parental reports, to deepen our understanding of the issue. The 80 parents or legal guardians completed a brief survey to provide information on water consumption at home. No statistically significant differences across demographic characteristics were found. However, large to moderate effect size were discovered. The third goal of the present study was to compare the usage of the sugary sweetened beverages (SSBs) with the national Head Start Faces data 2009 (DHHS, 2017). The current study group had statistically significant difference in consumption of those sugary sweetened beverages. The current study concluded that the water consumption of the children in Head Start classrooms are far less that recommended level. Suggestions on how to increase water consumption were made based on observed behaviors of children across four classrooms. Policy changes regarding water consumption is suggested to increase the water consumption.


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Graduation Date





Culp, Anne


Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


College of Education and Human Performance

Degree Program

Education; Early Childhood Education









Release Date

August 2018

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)