Korean J Community Nutr.  2021 Apr;26(2):77-92. 10.5720/kjcn.2021.26.2.77.

Defining Food Literacy and Its Application to Nutrition Interventions: A scoping Review

  • 1Student, Department of Food Science and Nutrition & The Korean Institute of Nutrition, Hallym University, Chuncheon, Korea
  • 2Professor, Department of Food Science and Nutrition, Dankook University, Cheonan, Korea
  • 3) Professor, Department of Food Science and Nutrition & The Korean Institute of Nutrition, Hallym University, Chuncheon, Korea


Food literacy (FL) can be an important concept that embodies the nutritional capabilities of individuals. The purpose of this study was to introduce the definition and core elements of FL from previous literature, to summarize measurement tools and intervention programs with FL, and to suggest the direction of future research and programs to integrate the concept of FL.
The literature review was conducted through PubMed and Google Scholar databases by combining the search term ‘food literacy’ with ‘definition’, ‘measurement’, ‘questionnaire’, ‘intervention’, and ‘program’. Among the 94 papers primarily reviewed 31 manuscripts that suited the purpose of the study were used for analyses.
There is no consensus on the definition of FL that encompasses the multidimensional aspects of the concept. The definitions of FL were slightly different depending on the authors, and the interpretation of the core elements also varied. Based on the review, we propose a framework of FL that is in line with the current discussion among international researchers. This focuses on the core elements adapted from health literacy, namely functional, interactive, and critical FL. Specifically, we suggest some detailed elements for interactive and critical FL, which were often the subject of divergent views among researchers in previous literature. We found that most of the tools in the reviewed literature provided information on validity and reliability and were developed for a specific target population. Also, most of the tools were focused on functional FL. Similarly, most of the interventions targeted functional FL.
This study reviewed the definition and core elements of FL, available measurement tools, and intervention programs using validated tools. We propose the development of tools with sound reliability and validity that encompass the three core elements of FL for different age groups. This will help to understand whether improving food literacy can translate into better nutritional intake and health status among individuals and communities.


food literacy; definition; measurement tool; intervention study; scoping review
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