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The new school year is starting, and families have to get ready for everything they need to do every day. What is the kids’ lunch choice? What kind of snacks will they have? Parents of teenagers think that they don’t need to worry anymore because they can do it themselves. Are they capable of doing so? What is the food literacy level of our youth? As parents, have we prepared them for independence and autonomy? In this regard, I came across an article published in August titled “Nutrition literacy status and its association with adherence to the Mediterranean diet, anthropometric parameters, and lifestyle behaviors among early adolescents.”

This study looked at the nutritional literacy status of early adolescents and how it relates to their adherence to the Mediterranean diet (MD), anthropometric parameters, and lifestyle behaviors. This is a cross-sectional study. The nutritional literacy was assessed using the ‘Adolescent Nutrition Literacy Scale.” Dietary intake was determined through a 24-hour food recall. The ‘Mediterranean Diet Quality Index’ was employed to gauge adolescents’ adherence to the MD. Physical activity levels were measured using the International Physical Activity Questionnaire (IPAQ). Body weight, height, waist, hip, and neck circumference were recorded. The study was carried out in four secondary schools in Izmir, Turkey. A total of 1074 secondary school students participated in the study.

Adolescence is considered the best period to develop throughout life positive health behaviours. Lifelong eating habits, which are a part of the lifestyle, are shaped in this period(1). Recently, it has been reported that adolescents are gradually moving away from the Mediterranean diet (MD) (based on plant-based food, MUFA, complex carbohydrates, and decreased intake of red and processed meats) which represents a healthy and sustainable diet for all age groups and has a significant impact on the prevention of cardiovascular and metabolic disorders(2–4). Numerous studies have shown that adolescents have low adherence to the MD, but high adherence to the Western diet pattern, which is characterised by a high-energy diet style and ultra-processed foods, rich in saturated fats and low in micronutrients(4–6). In addition, it was reported that 80 % of adolescents lack physical activity, and screen-based sedentary behaviours such as watching TV and playing video games are very common among adolescents(7,8). Unhealthy eating habits, sedentary behaviours and physical inactivity are all recognised as risk factors for chronic diseases, including diabetes mellitus, CVD and obesity(9,10). Recently, it has been reported that nutrition-related problems and behaviours among children and adolescents are associated with nutrition literacy(1,9,11). Nutrition literacy is defined as ‘the degree to which individuals have the ability to receive, process, and understand the nutritional knowledge and skills necessary for making appropriate nutrition decisions’ (12). A crosssectional study involving 2·869 adults has shown a significant association between nutrition literacy and adherence to the MD(13). Tehrani et al.(14) found that a higher nutrition knowledge score was associated with a higher MD adherence score in Iranian female adolescents. A study conducted on adolescents found that there was a relationship between nutrition literacy and BMI, daily lifestyle behaviours, and eating habits(1). Another study found that nutrition literacy scores were positively related to smaller fast-food portion sizes and lower frequency of intake of packaged or processed snacks among school age children and adolescents(15). Determining nutrition literacy status and understanding the determinants of healthy eating and lifestyle behaviours can help adopt effective strategies to promote health in early adolescents(15,16). There is limited data regarding the influence of nutrition literacy on MD and lifestyle behaviours. Moreover, to the best of our knowledge, there is no study evaluating nutrition literacy status among Turkish secondary school students and the relationship between nutrition literacy, physical activity level, total screen time, and anthropometric measurements (waist, hip and neck circumference). Therefore, the main purpose of this study was to determine the nutrition literacy status of early adolescents and its association with adherence to the MD, anthropometric measurements, and lifestyle behaviours, including eating habits, dietary intake, physical activity level and screen time.

The study found that the nutrition literacy of secondary school students in Turkey was at a moderate level. Higher nutrition literacy was associated with various positive lifestyle and dietary outcomes, including greater adherence to the Mediterranean diet, increased water consumption, reduced fast-food intake, and decreased screen time. However, there was no significant relationship between nutrition literacy and BMI or anthropometric measurements. The results indicate that improving the nutrition literacy of Turkish secondary school students is essential. Educators and public healthcare planners should focus on enhancing food and nutrition-related knowledge to develop strategies that raise nutrition literacy levels among these adolescents. Higher nutrition literacy was linked to healthier eating habits, such as increased water intake and reduced fast-food consumption. Additionally, students with high nutrition literacy were less likely to skip main meals. These findings align with previous research, which suggests that nutrition literacy plays a pivotal role in shaping adolescents’ dietary choices. Higher nutrition literacy scores were associated with increased intake of essential nutrients like fiber, protein, calcium, potassium, magnesium, vitamin C, folate, and iron. Furthermore, nutrition literacy was positively related to adherence to the Mediterranean diet, emphasizing the importance of nutrition education in promoting healthier eating patterns. The study also revealed that active adolescents had higher nutrition literacy scores and spent less time in front of screens, highlighting the role of nutrition literacy in encouraging a healthier lifestyle. However, despite these positive associations, there was no significant link between nutrition literacy and BMI or anthropometric measurements, indicating that other factors also influence these outcomes. It’s important to note that this study had some limitations, including its cross-sectional design, potential biases in self-reported data, and its focus on secondary school students in Turkey. Nonetheless, the findings underscore the need to enhance nutrition literacy among early adolescents to promote healthy dietary choices and lifestyle behaviors. Future research should explore strategies to improve nutrition literacy and its long-term effects on healthy living among this age group.


Read all at: https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/public-health-nutrition/article/nutrition-literacy-status-and-its-association-with-adherence-to-the-mediterranean-diet-anthropometric-parameters-and-lifestyle-behaviours-among-early-adolescents/5D8B2B477F44843F00FF51061257F6D5

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