New research brief: Connecting to culture helps families return to drinking water

Feb 27, 2023

Researchers conducted a small community-based participatory research pilot of a drinking water intervention in the Navajo Nation and found that caregivers' reported knowledge of Diné (Navajo) traditions about water doubled and that the influence of Diné traditions on beverages they offered their children more than doubled. A Community Advisory Group met monthly to develop a curriculum for preschoolers and their caregivers that responded to caregiver knowledge gaps and centered Navajo language and traditions. Four monthly lessons were delivered by Early Childhood Education teachers through remote learning using multimedia materials to 21 households with children ages 2-5 enrolled in four Navajo Nation preschools. A majority (86%) of participating households had tap water at home, but only 38% stated they trusted their tap water's safety. While not statistically significant, children's average daily water consumption increased by 16% while consumption of sugary drinks decreased by 21%, with a reduction in energy intake from sugary drinks of 26 calories per day. The study was led by Brigham and Women's Hospital in partnership with Community Outreach and Patient Empowerment (COPE) of Navajo Nation and the Nutrition Policy Institute, University of California, Agriculture and Natural Resources. The study was funded by Healthy Eating Research, a national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (grant no. 77234). To learn more, read the research brief, “Water is K'é: A Community-Based Intervention to Increase Healthy Beverage Consumption by Navajo Preschool Children.”

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