A pilot study to improve sugar and water consumption in Maltese school children

C Copperstone* (Corresponding Author), G. McNeill, L. Aucott, D. M. Jackson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Excessive sugar consumption remains implicated as one of the key dietary factors that has been linked to overweight and obesity in children. Schools have been identified as an important setting for health promotion interventions in children and can be successful in bringing about dietary behavioral change when well designed. The main aim of the study was to conduct a pilot intervention study and assess the possible effects of educational and environmental methodological components on sugar intake and water consumption in Maltese school children. Face-to-face educational sessions for children and parents were supported by written materials and provision of free drinking water for children for a 12 week period in the school setting. Two main dietary outcomes were measured: non-milk extrinsic sugars(NMES) intake (measured as g/day) and water consumption (measured as servings/day), measured in the pre- and post-intervention periods. The dietary outcomes were measured at school using the novel online dietary assessment tool, REALITYMALTA™. 55 children, aged 10-11 years, were recruited, and 48 provided diet data at baseline and end. A reduction in mean energy intakes was noted from 7733 kJ/day (SD 2046) to 6809 (SD 2224) kJ/day (p = 0.03), with water servings intake increased and NMES intake decreased but results not statistically significant. Parent attendance at the educational sessions was low. A larger scale study, including multi-level analysis is recommended. Modifying the content of the intervention and finding ways to increase parent engagement should be considered in future.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Adolescent Medicine and Health
Early online date15 Feb 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 15 Feb 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding source: This study was part of a PhD project with the University of Aberdeen, for which CC received a PhD scholarship from the University of Malta. GMcN and DMJ were supported by the Scottish Government Rural and Environment Research and Analysis Services (RERAS).


  • intervention
  • obesity
  • pilot study
  • school children


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