Towards the Implementation of a Conceptual Framework of Food and Nutrition Literacy: Providing Healthy Eating for the Population

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2019 Dec 11;16(24):5041. doi: 10.3390/ijerph16245041.


Existing definitions of food literacy (FL) and nutrition literacy (NL) in particular refer to individual knowledge, motivation, competences, and awareness, which determine the relationship between individuals and food, the food system, and nutrition information. Several authors proposed specific conceptualization of the terms. Nevertheless, the description of analogies and differences between FL and NL is still lacking, as is an integrated framework which highlights the meaning of the concepts. This work aims to describe and discuss evidence provided by the literature in order to develop and propose a comprehensive conceptualization of FL and NL to the scientific community. We systematically reviewed six databases, considering the search terms of FL and NL. We collected the antecedents, components, and consequences of both FL and NL. We underlined and traced similarities of the concepts as well as prerogative features through the content analysis of definitions. We obtained 14 definitions of NL and 12 definitions of FL; 42 papers presented antecedents and 53 papers contained consequences. We observed that NL could be considered a specific form of FL. In addition, we noted that the consequences of NL are included in the subset of the consequences of FL and the conceptual limits of FL correspond to the outcome of healthful diet. We conclude that FL and NL build a multifaceted concept which implies both individual and public perspectives. We propose a conceptualization which could be useful to develop an executive framework aimed at providing healthy eating for the population.

Keywords: executive framework; food literacy; nutrition (or nutritional) literacy; scoping review.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Diet, Healthy* / methods
  • Diet, Healthy* / psychology
  • Health Literacy* / methods
  • Health Literacy* / standards
  • Health Promotion* / methods
  • Health Promotion* / standards
  • Humans
  • Nutritional Status
  • Nutritive Value*