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Adolescent food literacy programmes: A review of the literature

Authors


  • N. Brooks, Grad Dip Diet APD, Research Assistant
  • A. Begley, DrPH APD, Lecturer Nutrition and Dietetics

Abstract

Aim

The aim of this study was to explore what is known about food literacy programmes targeting adolescents, including identification of the constituents of food literacy addressed, assessment of programme effectiveness, and description of programme design or delivery specific to adolescents.

Methods

A review of the peer-reviewed literature surrounding adolescent food literacy was conducted using scholarly electronic databases. Programme reports were identified in the grey literature using online searching and cross-referencing to support the research aim. Programmes from 2000 to 2012 targeting adolescents aged 13–17 years were included.

Results

A total of 19 peer-reviewed papers and four grey literature programmes met the search criteria. Interventions focused on practical cooking and/or food preparation skills and targeted younger adolescent age groups. Programmes were most commonly held in schools and community settings. The majority of programmes (n = 16/23) did not use a theoretical basis for their development. Programme evaluation encompassed the use of pre- and post-intervention questionnaires and focus groups. Only nine studies included a dietary behaviour-based outcome measure. Although 19 of the 23 studies reviewed reported positive changes related to the intervention, these did not include significant changes in diet quality or cooking frequency at home.

Conclusions

Few existing adolescent food literacy programmes have demonstrated a positive impact on dietary behaviours to date. Adolescent target groups present unique challenges in programme development and delivery. However, the physical, social and emotional health needs of this age group and potential to influence lifelong behaviours highlight the need to design effective and age-appropriate adolescent food literacy programmes.

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