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Food literacy interventions in elementary schools: A systematic scoping review

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-20, 21:08 authored by Rebecca KellyRebecca Kelly, Rose NashRose Nash

Objectives:Childhood is a critical period for developing healthy behaviors and attitudes towards food. There is a growing interest in school-based interventions that aim to improve food literacy. Therefore, the present systematic scoping review aimed to characterize food literacy interventions in elementary schools.

Methods: Databases (PubMed, Web of Science and EBSCO) were searched for food literacy interventions in elementary schools (students aged 4-12 years). Studies were assessed according to design, duration, theoretical underpinning and ascertainment of food literacy outcome(s). Interventions were assessed according to functional, interactive or critical food literacy competencies.

Results: After exclusions, 115 studies were eligible for review, including 104 original interventions. Interventions ranged from 45 minutes to 4 years. Social Cognitive Theory was the most frequently used underpinning theory and interventions included; classroom lessons, games, school gardens, food preparation and cooking classes. Most studies measured food literacy outcomes quantitatively (97%, n 112). All studies addressed functional literacy (n 115), while 77% (n 89) addressed interactive food literacy, only 28% (n 32) addressed critical food literacy.

Conclusions: In this first international review of food literacy programs in elementary schools we found great heterogeneity in study and intervention characteristics. Most interventions addressed functional and interactive food literacy; whereas critical food literacy requires further research.


Publication title

Journal of School Health










Menzies Institute for Medical Research


Amer School Health Assoc

Place of publication

Po Box 708, Kent, USA, Oh, 44240

Rights statement

Copyright 2021 American School Health Association

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Community health care; Nutrition

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