Toronto Metropolitan University
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Patterns and correlates of nutrition knowledge across five countries in the 2018 international food policy study

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-11-23, 17:04 authored by Jasmin BhawraJasmin Bhawra, Sharon I. Kirkpatrick, Marissa G. Hall, Lana Vanderlee, Christine M. White, David Hammond


Nutrition knowledge is an important determinant of diet-related behaviour; however, the use of disparate assessment tools creates challenges for comparing nutrition knowledge levels and correlates across studies, geographic contexts, and populations. Using the Food Processing Knowledge (FoodProK) score – a measure of nutrition knowledge based on consumers’ ability to understand and apply the concept of food processing in a functional task – nutrition knowledge levels and associated correlates were assessed in five countries.


Adults, aged ≥18 years, were recruited through the Nielsen Consumer Insights Global Panel in Australia (n = 3997), Canada (n = 4170), Mexico (n = 4044), the United Kingdom (UK) (n = 5363), and the United States (US) (n = 4527). Respondents completed web-based surveys in November–December 2018. Functional nutrition knowledge was measured using the FoodProK score. Linear regression models examined associations between FoodProK score and sociodemographic, dietary behaviours, and knowledge-related characteristics.


FoodProK scores (maximum, 8 points) were highest in Canada (mean: 5.1) and Australia (5.0), followed by the UK (4.8), Mexico (4.7), and the US (4.6). Health literacy and self-rated nutrition knowledge were positively associated with FoodProK scores (p < .001). FoodProK scores were higher among those who reported vegetarian/other dietary practices (p < .001); made efforts to consume less sodium, trans fats, or sugars (p < .001); ≥60 years (p = 0.002), female (p < .001), and ‘majority’ ethnic group respondents in their respective countries (p < .001).


This study found differences in consumers’ ability to distinguish levels of food processing for common foods, with somewhat lower levels of nutrition knowledge in countries with the highest intake of highly processed foods. Nutrition knowledge differences based on consumer characteristics highlight the need for accessible policy interventions that support uptake of healthy eating efforts across populations to avoid exacerbating nutrition-related disparities. Tools such as the FoodProK can be used to evaluate the impact of policies targeting nutrition knowledge across contexts.




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