Document Type


Date of Degree Completion

Spring 2019

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Cultural and Environmental Resource Management

Committee Chair

Toni Sipic

Second Committee Member

Rebecca Pearson

Third Committee Member

Debra Byrd


Increasingly, poor diet has been shown to be one of the most crucial factors associated with cause of death, even more critical than smoking. Research in the past two decades has consistently linked increased consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSB) to the obesity epidemic contributing to a public health crisis all over the United States. Native Americans, among other minority groups, suffer obesity disproportionately from the rest of the US population, yet they continually fail to be included in research on the subject. Traditional research methods, sparse care coverage on reservations, consolidation of unique tribes into one classification, and failure to include cultural and historical contexts in research analysis have led to a failure to both clearly define the cause of the disparity, and furthermore, to provide for closing the gap. This study utilized the results of a cross-sectional survey on drinking habits and water access in one tribal reservation to determine prevalence of SSB consumption and its relationship to identification as Native American. Multivariate logistic regression analysis, after accounting for covariates, identified characteristics which significantly impacted odds of consumption. Prevalence of daily SSB consumption was determined to be 69.4% (± 4.7%). Odds of daily soda and SSB consumption were 3 to 4 times greater in Native Americans than other ethnicities. Non-natives were four times more likely to consume water daily. Body mass index was positively correlated with daily soda consumption, and older individuals experienced greater odds of heavy SSB consumption (>4 SSBs consumed per day). Individuals with less than a college education were at greater odds of daily SSB consumption. Contrary to the literature, gender and income were uncorrelated to consumption. This study was the first of its kind to establish a baseline statistic for prevalence and determinants of SSB consumption in a tribal community.