Shared Perceptions on Upstream Factors that Influence Water and Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Consumption Among Hispanic Families in the Greater Washington, DC, Metro Area: Qualitative Results From Focus Group Discussions

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics




Focus group; Hispanic; Qualitative research; SSB; Tap water


BACKGROUND: Hispanics in the United States are among those with highest consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) and lowest consumption of water. These dietary disparities are rooted in systemic influences that must be identified and addressed. OBJECTIVE: The study aimed to describe how Hispanic parents currently living in the greater Washington, DC, metro area and born outside of the United States, perceived upstream factors that influenced their current beverage choice. DESIGN: Six qualitative focus groups were conducted in Spanish in 2021. PARTICIPANTS/SETTING: Hispanic parents (n = 31) of children enrolled in Early Head Start in the greater Washington, DC, metro area were recruited (all women, born outside the United States, and spoke Spanish as a first language). STATISTICAL ANALYSIS: Verbatim transcripts were analyzed deductively using the Community Energy Balance Framework. RESULTS: The five key findings were: Growing up (in their countries of origin in Central America and Mexico) participants were used to drinking water, often gathered it from the source, and liked its flavor. Relatives passed down their knowledge about potabilization of water, the health benefits of drinking water, and health consequences of drinking SSBs. Growing up, prepackaged SSBs were not as accessible compared with where they now live in the United States. Participants perceived that sociocultural hospitality norms dictated that guests should be served SSBs and not water. Participants noted that messages regarding juice and water across US public health programs and policies were not aligned. CONCLUSIONS: These findings suggest there are opportunities for public health messaging and procurement of safe, palatable drinking water in lieu of SSBs and juice.


Global Health