Master of Science (M.S.)
Year Degree Awarded
Month Degree Awarded
point-of-purchase, sweetened beverages, college, nutrition education
College students are among the highest consumers of sweetened beverages, drinking more than 25% of their daily calorie needs from sweetened drinks. They also tend to be low consumers of milk. This is important, as high consumption of sweetened drinks and low consumption of nutrient-dense drinks is associated with obesity, dental caries and bone disease. Point-of-purchase (POP) marketing and nutrition education programs are thought to be effective in changing food selection behaviors of college students. Therefore, we conducted a 2-week intervention that combined POP marketing and nutrition education aiming to 1. decrease sweetened beverage consumption 2. increase milk/milk equivalent consumption and 3. increase knowledge of beverages and health among University of Massachusetts students.
To determine effectiveness of the campaign, college students enrolled at UMass Amherst with a meal plan of > six meals/week were recruited via email for survey participation prior to (n=1547) and 14 days after (n=1387) the intervention. We compared self-reported beverage consumption and nutrition knowledge for pre- versus post-intervention and exposed versus unexposed (post-intervention) survey respondents with Chi-square tests. Using both approaches to assess campaign effectiveness, we found that exposed participants were less likely to drink regular soda at least once per week (p =0.001, p = 0.044), more likely to identify fruit juice is not a source of calcium/vitamin D (p<0.001, p = 0.011) and more likely to identify that there is a link between artificial sweeteners and hunger (p<0.001, p<0.001).
We found that POP marketing was effective in decreasing soda consumption and increasing nutrition knowledge about calcium/vitamin D and artificial sweeteners in our study. These results suggest that similar POP marketing campaigns may be useful in college settings to improve beverage choices and knowledge. Successful campaigns that impact long-term behavior may also improve long-term health outcomes for college students by decreasing sweetened beverage intake.
Jerusha Nelson Peterman