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  • National Drinking Water Alliance

Connecting to culture helps families return to drinking water


A small community-based participatory research pilot of a drinking water intervention on Navajo Nation 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.


COVID-19 pandemic restrictions meant that the intervention, originally to be delivered on-site at Early Childhood Education sites, was instead delivered by teachers to families through multimedia remote learning. Four monthly lessons included activities, information, and goal setting. Of interest, the 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, 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.


Prior community-based work had identified a desire for strategies to enable consumption of water instead of sugary drinks, and further, that the early years would be an impactful target. A Community Advisory Group (CAG) met monthly to develop a curriculum for preschoolers and their caregivers (including parents) that responded to caregiver knowledge gaps and centered Navajo language and traditions.


The study, led by Brigham and Women’s Hospital in partnership with Community Outreach and Patient Empowerment (COPE) of Navajo Nation and University of California Nutrition Policy Institute, was funded by Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Healthy Eating Research. To learn more, read the research brief, Water is K’é: A Community-Based Intervention to Increase Healthy Beverage Consumption by Navajo Preschool Children.

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