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Identifying attributes of food literacy: a scoping review

  • Elsie Azevedo Perry (a1), Heather Thomas (a2), H Ruby Samra (a3), Shannon Edmonstone (a4), Lyndsay Davidson (a5), Amy Faulkner (a6), Lisa Petermann (a7), Elizabeth Manafò (a7) and Sharon I Kirkpatrick (a8)...

An absence of food literacy measurement tools makes it challenging for nutrition practitioners to assess the impact of food literacy on healthy diets and to evaluate the outcomes of food literacy interventions. The objective of the present scoping review was to identify the attributes of food literacy.


A scoping review of peer-reviewed and grey literature was conducted and attributes of food literacy identified. Subjects included in the search were high-risk groups. Eligible articles were limited to research from Canada, USA, the UK, Australia and New Zealand.


The search identified nineteen peer-reviewed and thirty grey literature sources. Fifteen identified food literacy attributes were organized into five categories. Food and Nutrition Knowledge informs decisions about intake and distinguishing between ‘healthy’ and ‘unhealthy’ foods. Food Skills focuses on techniques of food purchasing, preparation, handling and storage. Self-Efficacy and Confidence represent one’s capacity to perform successfully in specific situations. Ecologic refers to beyond self and the interaction of macro- and microsystems with food decisions and behaviours. Food Decisions reflects the application of knowledge, information and skills to make food choices. These interdependent attributes are depicted in a proposed conceptual model.


The lack of evaluated tools inhibits the ability to assess and monitor food literacy; tailor, target and evaluate programmes; identify gaps in programming; engage in advocacy; and allocate resources. The present scoping review provides the foundation for the development of a food literacy measurement tool to address these gaps.

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