Food literacy at secondary schools in Australia

Rimante Ronto*, Lauren Ball, Donna Pendergast, Neil D. Harris

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Food literacy can encourage adolescents to develop healthy dietary patterns. This study examined home economics teachers' (HET) perspectives of the importance, curriculum, self-efficacy, and food environments regarding food literacy in secondary schools in Australia. Methods: A 20-item cross-sectional survey was completed by 205 HETs. The survey focused on the importance of aspects of food literacy, HETs' self-efficacy, and attitudes toward food literacy and schools' food environments. Data were analyzed descriptively, and associations between participants' demographic characteristics and perceptions were investigated by chi-square analyses. Results: HETs rated aspects of food literacy including preparing and cooking food, knowing about healthy foods and food safety and hygiene practices as very important. They indicated animal welfare, where food comes from, and plan and manage time for food shopping to be the least important aspects of food literacy. HETs reported that students' involvement in food literacy activities resulted in healthier diets and improved food practices, but the schools' food environments are not comprehensively supportive of food literacy. Conclusions: HETs report that food literacy is very important for adolescents to learn. The focus is more on microaspects in comparison to macroaspects of food literacy. Schools' food environments are ideally positioned to shape dietary intake of adolescents but their potential is not being realized.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)823-831
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of School Health
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • child and adolescent health
  • dietary behaviors
  • food literacy
  • home economics
  • secondary school


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