142nd APHA Annual Meeting and Exposition

Annual Meeting Recordings are now available for purchase

Feasibility study of a food package literacy intervention: Process and initial results

142nd APHA Annual Meeting and Exposition (November 15 - November 19, 2014): http://www.apha.org/events-and-meetings/annual
Tuesday, November 18, 2014 : 5:30 PM - 5:50 PM

Chan Thai, MPH , Department of Communication, University of California, Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA
Kimberly Walsh, MA , Department of Communication, University of California, Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA
Morgan Asher , Department of Communication, University of California, Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA
Oscar Pena, BA , Department of Health Promotion and Behavioral Sciences, University of Texas, School of Public Health, Houston, TX
Background: Most research on the promotion of healthy dietary practices in the US focuses on educating consumers about food groups, recommended daily nutrient values, and the Nutrition Facts Panel. Educational programs have yet to focus on other food packaging features that consumers use to make efficient purchasing decisions, such as front-of-package claims and graphics. This knowledge is crucial, considering the likelihood of misinterpreting information on food packages and the health risks associated with the resulting consumption patterns. With a cognitive theory of media literacy as the theoretical basis, the present intervention aimed to increase the “food package literacy” of undergraduates.

Design:Two interactive workshops covered the following topics: label comprehension, front-of-package health claims, regulations, organic labeling requirements, advertising claims, and information processing. Pre- and post-test data were collected via a closed-ended questionnaire assessing “food package literacy” knowledge and an open-ended package analysis activity where students evaluated the healthfulness of a sample package.

Results: From pre-test to post-test, participants demonstrated a statistically significant increase of 5 points across all knowledge domains (from 14 to 19 correct responses out of a possible 30), t(17)=3.02, p=.008. Additionally, at post-test, participants were more aware of advertising features on the sample package and incorporated knowledge about package regulations and front of package advertising features to determine the healthfulness of the product.

Discussion: Findings highlight the potential benefits of incorporating “food package literacy” into nutrition education programs as a means of improving consumers’ nutrition knowledge, evaluations of product healthfulness, and in the long-term, their food purchasing and consumption patterns.

Learning Areas:

Administer health education strategies, interventions and programs
Conduct evaluation related to programs, research, and other areas of practice
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Demonstrate the feasibility of a package literacy workshop-model intervention in adult nutrition education in a University setting. Discuss the obstacles encountered (particularly attrition) when conducting an evaluation of a nutrition education program serving a college-aged adult population. Describe opportunities for improving nutrition education curriculum through incorporating package literacy components to expand participant knowledge and skills and increase overall intervention effectiveness.

Keyword(s): Nutrition, College Students

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I designed the intervention and coordinated the implementation of program. I also designed the evaluation study, including the development of all of the measures. I have been working in nutrition education and media literacy interventions for over eight years. This project integrates a theory of media literacy from the communication discipline with practical health promotion lessons from the field of public health promotion and health education.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.

Back to: 4458.0: College Health Initiatives