Adult food literacy program increases nutrition habits over time
Philadelphia | September 11, 2023
Research published in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior determined the effect of Food Sensations for Adults on food literacy behaviors and selected dietary behaviors
Improving food literacy positively influences diet quality and reduces the risk of chronic diseases; however, interpreting the evidence of its effectiveness has been limited. Results of a new study(opens in new tab/window) in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior(opens in new tab/window), published by Elsevier, found that Foodbank Western Australia’s Food Sensations for Adults (FSA) food literacy program is effective in producing positive changes across a range of food literacy and dietary behaviors in participants ages 18 and older.
Lead authorAndrea Begley, DrPH,School of Population Health, Curtin University in Perth, Western Australia (WA), says, “Behavior change takes time to establish. Participants may be unable to change all food literacy and dietary behaviors quickly, so unsurprisingly, programs lasting more than five months were deemed the most effective.”
This study tested the effectiveness of the FSA with a quasi-experimental design. Data were collected at the start and end of the program. The control group was recruited from adult volunteers and staff at the Foodbank WA warehouse in Perth and at a Foodbank WA promotion stall during a public exposition from August to October 2020. The FSA facilitators administered preprogram and postprogram questionnaires using an evaluation protocol to maintain consistency and ethical requirements. One-hundred twenty-eight control group participants completed the preprogram questionnaire and 80 completed the postprogram questionnaire. These responses were matched with FSA program participants (62.5% matched data).
Dr. Begley explains, “We hypothesized that FSA program participants who completed at least 75% of the program would report statistically significant improvements in food literacy behaviors and fruit and vegetable intake.”
The FSA comprised four sessions of 150 minutes each. The curriculum was mapped out using the Australian Food Literacy and Context Model within four categories: planning and management, selection, preparation, and eating. All lesson content and resources were designed to be accessible to people with low literacy and were primarily pictorial.
While the FSA is a relatively short program, delivered over four weeks, researchers found it effective with demonstrated sustained behavioral change in line with other similar published programs.
The results indicated that the program group achieved statistically greater improvements in planning and management and preparation. The servings of vegetables significantly improved, as well. An increase in cooking confidence was measured, with improvements in other food literacy behaviors also noted.
Dr. Begley notes, “This study provides a valuable contribution to the literature to justify the funding of food literacy programs. The results are pertinent to government policymakers in decision-making for evidence-based public health investment.”
Notes for editors
The article is “Determining the Effectiveness of an Adult Food Literacy Program Using a Matched Control Group,” by Andrea Begley, DrPH; Isabelle Fisher, MDiet; Lucy Butcher, PhD; Frances Foulkes-Taylor, Mdiet; Roslyn Giglia, PhD; and Satvinder S. Dhaliwal, PhD (https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jneb.2023.06.001(opens in new tab/window)). It appears in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, volume 55, issue 9 (September 2023), published by Elsevier.
The article is openly available at https://www.jneb.org/article/S1499-4046(23)00392-5/fulltext(opens in new tab/window).
Full text of the article is also available to credentialed journalists upon request; contact Eileen Leahy at +1 732 238 3628 or [email protected](opens in new tab/window) to obtain a copy. To schedule an interview with the author(s), please contact Andrea Begley, DrPH, at [email protected](opens in new tab/window).
Food Sensations for Adults is a free four-week food literacy program delivered by dietitians and nutritionists to adults from households with low- to middle-income who want to improve their food literacy. It was funded by the WA Department of Health and conducted by Foodbanks WA. This research was conducted as a partial requirement for the Master of Dietetics and funded by Curtin University, Perth, WA.
An audio podcast featuring an interview with Andrea Begley, DrPH, and other information for journalists are available at https://www.jneb.org/content/media(opens in new tab/window). Excerpts from the podcast may be reproduced by the media with permission from Eileen Leahy.
About the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior (JNEB)
The Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior (JNEB), the official journal of the Society for Nutrition Education and Behavior (SNEB), is a refereed, scientific periodical that serves as a resource for all professionals with an interest in nutrition education and dietary/physical activity behaviors. The purpose of JNEB is to document and disseminate original research, emerging issues, and practices relevant to nutrition education and behavior worldwide and to promote healthy, sustainable food choices. It supports the society's efforts to disseminate innovative nutrition education strategies, and communicate information on food, nutrition, and health issues to students, professionals, policy makers, targeted audiences, and the public.
The Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior features articles that provide new insights and useful findings related to nutrition education research, practice, and policy. The content areas of JNEB reflect the diverse interests of health, nutrition, education, Cooperative Extension, and other professionals working in areas related to nutrition education and behavior. As the Society's official journal, JNEB also includes occasional policy statements, issue perspectives, and member communications. www.jneb.org(opens in new tab/window)
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