New study examines perceptions of water safety and whether they influence beverage intake preferences

Feb 23, 2023

Drinking sugar-sweetened beverages (SSB), instead of plain water, is associated with poorer health outcomes and a higher risk of developing diet-related chronic diseases. However, public distrust of the local water supply may deter the intake of plain drinking water. A recent study investigated the perceptions of tap and bottled water safety, as well as plain water and SSB intake of participants following reports on drinking water quality violations in the US, specifically the Flint water crisis. Researchers used survey data on 4,041 American adults in 2018. They found that 1 in 7 adults did not think their tap water at home was safe to drink, 2 in 5 adults thought bottled water was safer than tap water, and 1 in 4 adults did not like the taste of their local tap water. Those with negative perceptions of tap water safety and taste reported low tap water intake and were more likely to consume bottled water. The study also identified an association between perceiving bottled water as safer than tap water and a higher SSB intake. This research provides guidance for effective interventions to promote water consumption and address perceptions of water safety. The study was published in the American Journal of Public Health Promotion by the following researchers: Sohyun Park, Stephen Onufrak, and Heidi Blanck of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Angie Cradock of Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Anisha Patel of Stanford University, and Christina Hecht of the Nutrition Policy Institute.

By Katherine Lanca
Author - Graduate Student
By Danielle L. Lee
Editor - Director of Communications & Research Engagement
By Christina Hecht
Editor - UC ANR Nutrition Policy Institute Academic Coordinator
By Lorrene Ritchie
Author - Director of the Nutrition Policy Institute and Cooperative Extension Nutrition Specialist