Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


College of Education and Human Services


Nutrition and Food Studies

Thesis Sponsor/Dissertation Chair/Project Chair

Shahla Wunderlich

Committee Member

Doreen Liou

Committee Member

John Specchio


Water is an essential nutrient for humans with several vital roles including maintaining body functions, temperature and preventing dehydration. Nevertheless, many population groups in the United States do not drink the recommended amount of water on a daily basis. The literature notes that drinking water is associated with better dietary practices including reduced sugar-sweetened beverages consumption, but few studies investigated the impact of drinking water on the total energy (calories) intake. In this study, an assessment of the intake of both plain water (pure water) and total water (water from pure water, beverages, and foods) is performed, and the intake is tested for its relationship with the daily calories consumed. A total of 81 college students between 18-32 years of age, completed the study by submitting two 24-hr dietary recalls for a weekday and a weekend. The 24-hr dietary recall was collected using the Automated Self-Administered 24-hr (ASA24Ò), and analyzed by IBM SPSS Statistics 22.0 using Pearson’s correlation, Eta squared, ANOVA and t-tests. Results indicated that in this age subgroup, plain water intake was 1577 ± 1150 mL/ day and total water intake was 2582 ± 1300 mL/ day, of which both were positively correlated with the daily energy intake (r= 0.3, P ≤ 0.005, and r=0.50, p< 0.001, respectively). In reference to Adequate Intakes (AIs), total water intake was closer to the recommended levels compared to plain water. The two demographic variables; gender and physical activity, were found to be associated with drinking water. Males showed better compliance with the recommended levels of AIs than females, while extremely active participants drank more water than sedentary participants (ηp2 = 0.28, p= 0.01). All other demographics including, age, Body Mass Index (BMI), race/ethnicity, annual income and employment status did not have any association with drinking plain water or the total water consumed. Additionally, other college information did not show any relationship with total and plain water, including major, year of education, part-time/ full-time, participation in the meal plan and living on campus/ off campus. These findings suggest that more educational campaigns targeting college students, or young adults in general, need to be conducted. Furthermore, it is necessary to update the dietary guidelines to acknowledge the importance of water, and to review the intake recommended levels to reflect the needs of different age groups. Finally, more studies need be conducted using various assessment tools with larger sample sizes and varying demographics, while taking seasons and location into consideration.