School of Medicine and Health Sciences Poster Presentations

Title

Perceptions and Consumption of Sugar-Sweetened Beverages among Medical Students at the George Washington University

Document Type

Poster

Keywords

Sugar; Beverages; Nutrition; Health; Vending

Publication Date

Spring 2017

Abstract

Perceptions and Consumption of Sugar-Sweetened Beverages among Medical Students at the George Washington University

Sophia J. Gauthier, MS

Allison C. Sylvetsky (Meni), PhD

Objective:

Consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSB) is associated with a variety of negative health outcomes, including diabetes and obesity. Healthcare providers have the opportunity to educate patients regarding their dietary habits, including reducing sugar consumption, for the prevention and management of chronic disease. Because nutritional coursework is not standardized across medical school curriculums, students likely have varying beliefs regarding the role of SSB in a healthy diet, as well as health outcomes associated with their consumption. Furthermore, there may exist a discrepancy between students’ beliefs about SSB and their actual consumption practices. The purpose of this study was to survey medical students at the George Washington University (GWU) in order to gain insight into perceptions of SSB within the medical community and how this may relate to their own SSB consumption.

Methods:

All procedures were approved by the Institutional Review Board at GWU prior to beginning data collection. Two-hundred and forty GWU medical students were recruited via email and completed a five-part questionnaire, which was developed in order to assess various aspects of SSB consumption. These included (1) types, frequency, and volume of SSB consumed, (2) preferred location to purchase SSB, (3) motivation for consuming SSB, (4) habits regarding SSB consumption, and (5) beliefs surrounding SSB consumption and associated health outcomes.

Results:

Of 240 students, over half (58%) reported drinking at least one SSB per week. Fifty-nine percent indicated that they “strongly agreed” with the statement that “SSB consumption is associated with diabetes,” while 3% of respondents indicated that they were “uncertain” with regards to this statement. Thirty-five percent indicated utilizing campus vending machines to purchase SSB, compared to 53% who indicated purchasing SSB from campus eateries, and 63% who indicated drinking SSB when free at on-campus events. Thirty-eight percent of respondents expressed interest in seeing a decrease in SSB offered in campus vending machines.

Conclusions:

Although SSB consumption is prevalent among GWU medical students, over one-third of participants expressed support for decreasing access to sugary drinks on campus. This calls attention to an apparent ‘disconnect’ between awareness of the adverse health consequences associated with SSB intake and individual behavior change, even in this health literate population. Further research will aim to understand the driving factors underlying SSB consumption among medical students in order to identify effective strategies for reducing their consumption.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Open Access

1

Comments

Poster to be presented at GW Annual Research Days 2017.

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Perceptions and Consumption of Sugar-Sweetened Beverages among Medical Students at the George Washington University

Perceptions and Consumption of Sugar-Sweetened Beverages among Medical Students at the George Washington University

Sophia J. Gauthier, MS

Allison C. Sylvetsky (Meni), PhD

Objective:

Consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSB) is associated with a variety of negative health outcomes, including diabetes and obesity. Healthcare providers have the opportunity to educate patients regarding their dietary habits, including reducing sugar consumption, for the prevention and management of chronic disease. Because nutritional coursework is not standardized across medical school curriculums, students likely have varying beliefs regarding the role of SSB in a healthy diet, as well as health outcomes associated with their consumption. Furthermore, there may exist a discrepancy between students’ beliefs about SSB and their actual consumption practices. The purpose of this study was to survey medical students at the George Washington University (GWU) in order to gain insight into perceptions of SSB within the medical community and how this may relate to their own SSB consumption.

Methods:

All procedures were approved by the Institutional Review Board at GWU prior to beginning data collection. Two-hundred and forty GWU medical students were recruited via email and completed a five-part questionnaire, which was developed in order to assess various aspects of SSB consumption. These included (1) types, frequency, and volume of SSB consumed, (2) preferred location to purchase SSB, (3) motivation for consuming SSB, (4) habits regarding SSB consumption, and (5) beliefs surrounding SSB consumption and associated health outcomes.

Results:

Of 240 students, over half (58%) reported drinking at least one SSB per week. Fifty-nine percent indicated that they “strongly agreed” with the statement that “SSB consumption is associated with diabetes,” while 3% of respondents indicated that they were “uncertain” with regards to this statement. Thirty-five percent indicated utilizing campus vending machines to purchase SSB, compared to 53% who indicated purchasing SSB from campus eateries, and 63% who indicated drinking SSB when free at on-campus events. Thirty-eight percent of respondents expressed interest in seeing a decrease in SSB offered in campus vending machines.

Conclusions:

Although SSB consumption is prevalent among GWU medical students, over one-third of participants expressed support for decreasing access to sugary drinks on campus. This calls attention to an apparent ‘disconnect’ between awareness of the adverse health consequences associated with SSB intake and individual behavior change, even in this health literate population. Further research will aim to understand the driving factors underlying SSB consumption among medical students in order to identify effective strategies for reducing their consumption.