Background: There is a need to develop and improve interventions promoting healthy drinking behaviors among children. A promising method could be to stimulate peer influence within children’s social networks. In the Share H2O social network intervention (SNI), peer influence was utilized by selecting a subset of influential children and training them as ‘influence agents’ to promote water consumption—as an alternative to SSBs. Previous research has mainly focused on the process of selecting influence agents. However, the process of motivating influence agents to promote the behavior has hardly received any research attention. Therefore, in the SNI Share H2O SNI, this motivation process was emphasized and grounded in the self-determination theory (SDT). This study evaluated the implementation of the Share H2O SNI, focusing on whether and how applying SDT-based techniques can motivate the influence agents and, indirectly, their peers. Methods: This study included data collected in the Netherlands from both the influence agents (n = 37) and the peers (n = 112) in the classroom networks of the influence agents. Self-reported measurements assessed the influence agents’ enjoyment of the training, duration and perceived autonomy support during the training, and changes in their intrinsic motivation and water consumption before and after the start of the intervention. Changes in the peers’ intrinsic motivation, perceived social support, and social norms were measured before and after the start of the intervention. Results: The influence agents enjoyed the training, the duration was adequate, and perceived it as autonomy supportive. There was an increase in the influence agents’ intrinsic motivation to drink water and their actual water consumption. Providing personal meaningful rationales seemed to have motivated the influence agents. The intrinsic motivation and perceived descriptive norm of the peers remained stable. The peers reported an increase in their perceived social support and injunctive norm concerning water drinking after the intervention. Influence agents appeared to mainly use face-to-face strategies, such as modeling, talking to peers, and providing social support to promote the behavior. Conclusions: The current findings provided preliminary evidence of the promising effects of using SDT-based techniques in an SNI to motivate the influence agents and, indirectly, their peers. Trial registration: NTR, NL6905, Registered 9 January 2018, https://www.trialregister.nl/trial/6905

Children, Drinking water, Intervention, Motivation, Peer influence, Sugar-sweetened beverages
dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12889-021-10161-9, hdl.handle.net/1765/134277
BMC Public Health

Smit, C.R, de Leeuw, R.N.H, Bevelander, K.E, Burk, W.J, van Woudenberg, T.J, Buijs, L, & Buijzen, M. (2021). Promoting water consumption among Dutch children: an evaluation of the social network intervention Share H2 O. BMC Public Health, 21(1). doi:10.1186/s12889-021-10161-9