Nutrition literacy status of adolescent students in Kampala district, Uganda


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Høgskolen i Oslo og Akershus

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Master i samfunnsernæring


Background and aim: Nutrition illiteracy may be contributing to the disease burden of poor communities and countries and reinforcing the already existing health and economic inequalities (Kickbusch, 2001; Lino, Basiotis, Anand, & Variyam, 1998; Silk et al., 2008). Nutrition literacy can be defined as the degree to which individuals have the capacity to obtain, process and understand basic nutrition information. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to determine the nutrition literacy status of adolescent students in Kampala District in Uganda. Materials and methods: The study was cross-sectional in nature with a total of 506 adolescent participants. The questionnaire used consisted of 29 attitude statements adapted from Pettersen et al. (2009a). It also included questions about confidence in seeking nutrition information, barriers to seeking nutrition information and level of trust in various sources of nutrition information. Exploratory factor analysis (EFA) and internal consistency reliability assessed using the Cronbach’s coefficient alpha were performed in order to establish the possible constructs. Multiple regression analysis was also performed to examine the degree to which the independent variables could contribute to explaining the variance (R2) in the dependent variables (nutrition literacy constructs) and, also, which of the independent variables were significant (p≤.05) predictors of this variance and to what extent. Results: EFA led to the development of seven nutrition literacy constructs: FNL, INL, INLdiscuss, CNLaction, CNLmedia, CNLinfluence and a GrandNL. Average scores indicated that the adolescent students had moderate levels of FNL, INL, INLdiscuss, CNLaction, and GrandNL but low levels of CNLmedia and CNLinfluence. Trust in newspapers or magazines, friends, family, government health agencies, international organisations, health personnel, nutritionists or dieticians and gender contributed to the variance of the nutrition literacy constructs. Conclusion: The results suggest that the adolescents most likely have the basic skills required to comprehend and follow nutrition messages. And also the interpersonal skills needed to manage nutrition issues in collaboration with other individuals. However, they are probably unlikely to evaluate nutritional claims made by media basing on sound scientific principles


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