What is the status of food literacy in Australian high schools? Perceptions of home economics teachers

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

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Citations (Scopus)


The high school setting has been identified as an ideal setting to teach adolescents about healthy dietary behaviours. This study explored home economics teachers' (HETs) views on the role of high schools in enhancing adolescents' food literacy and promoting healthy dietary behaviours. Semi-structured interviews with 22 HETs were conducted. The interview questions focused on the perceived strengths/opportunities and the limitations/barriers in enhancing adolescents' food literacy and healthy dietary behaviours in Australian high schools. Thematic data analysis was used to identify five key themes from the interview transcripts: (1) the standing of food-related life skills; (2) food literacy in the Australian school curriculum; (3) emphasis on resources; (4) learning through school canteens; and (5) building a school to home and community nexus. Overall, HETs reported that home economics was regarded by parents and other school staff to be less important than Maths or English for adolescents to learn in Australian high schools. Some teachers indicated that their schools offered one year compulsory teaching of food related studies which is typically delivered in the leaning areas of Technologies or Health and Physical Education (HPE). However, HETs stated that the time was insufficient to develop sustainable food-related life skills and introduce broader concepts of food literacy such as environmental sustainability. The lack of financial resources and non-supportive school food environments, including school canteens, were reportedly major factors that prevented food literacy education and healthy dietary behaviours of adolescents. Increasing the status of food literacy education in schools would support adolescents to develop food-related life skills and mobilise them as agents of dietary behaviour change in the home setting.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)326-334
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Adolescent
  • Dietary behaviours
  • Food literacy
  • High school


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