The Impact of Food Literacy on the Health and Wellbeing of Children and Adolescents

Junior (College 3rd year) ・Healthcare&Medicine ・APA ・8 Sources

As the population of vulnerable people continues to rise, there is an, even more, an urgency to come up with assessment standards in evaluating the nutritional status of this population and more so in providing proper nutritious foods, nutrition education as well as intervention. The prevalence of under-nutrition among the vulnerable populations with cases of low energy or nutrients is increasing at an alarming rate. However, this nutritional state has for so long been misdiagnosed as a result of the inappropriate assessment. As such, a nutritional diagnosis which will play an essential role in ensuring that nutritious foods are available to the vulnerable populations requires being accurate so as to ensure that an effective intervention is found. So as to improve the nutritious foods and nutritional diagnosis as well as reversing the undernutrition, nutritional education is an essential element in improving dietary habits and the choices of foods.

In areas where food security is precarious, vulnerable populations are in most cases are susceptible more than other populations owing to their diverse physiological requirements. Vulnerable people tend to have a lower metabolic rate and less muscle as compared to an average person meaning that they require 25% more dietary energy per day (Food Bank WA, 2015). Yet the vulnerable people need a similar amount and even more of many nutritious foods. Therefore, so as to compensate for their small food portions, they are necessitated to eat a much higher proportion of foods that are rich in proteins. Often, a vulnerable person needs a higher intake of minerals and vitamins proportional to the total dietary energy intake than an ordinary person. For instance, an aged woman requires three times more iron than an average woman. This implies that an elderly woman’s requirement is almost four times greater than a normal woman when translated in terms of food energy units in the context of her smaller intake. While some necessities of some nutrients may be reduced in vulnerable people, some research study findings indicate that the necessity of other essential nutrients may in fact rise. As such, there is an urgent need to evaluate the presently recommended daily nutrient allowances for this groups. Moreover, there is a rising global demand for WHO guidelines and policies which competent national governments can use in addressing the nutritional requirements for the vulnerable populations.

The impact of food literacy (or lack thereof) on the health and wellbeing of children and adolescents.

Interventions to improve food literacy can have a positive impact on the food consumption habits, health and the overall wellbeing of children and adolescents. While increasing their nutritional knowledge results to them choosing healthier foods, children also have a tendency of preferring nutritional foods that also do taste good. Encouragement of family involvement in the preparation of household foods will play a significant role in increasing food knowledge and skills of younger household members. Several research findings have confirmed that there exists a strong relation between nutritional knowledge and healthy eating or dietary quality. Furthermore, there has been an increased public awareness and education campaigns as well as industry efforts particularly focused on the young children and adolescents aiming at improving food healthiness. As a matter of fact, these have been the major components of past successful public health programs.

Program Discussion

The role of Foodbank WA and their nutrition education or health promotion programs (Foodbank’s ‘Food Sensations’ program at a school)

The Foodbank’s Food Sensation Program refers to a real-world food budgeting and nutrition education program which incorporates the WA Department of Health FOOD cents Nutritional Budgeting Program. It is an interactive food literacy and cooking initiative which focuses on improving knowledge and understanding of nutritious foods as well as providing skills to buy and prepare them. The program mainly aims at increasing knowledge on nutritious foods and skills particularly in the manner of preparing them. It details a broad range of topics related to food such:

• Food budgets

• Community and school kitchen gardens

• General nutrition guidelines

• Skills on preparing and cooking food

In addition, this program also provides illustrative resources that can be applied by several groups in the WA community. The food sensations in schools make use of interactive activities to teach the basic nutrition principles and guidelines such as take away vs. homemade, Joe’s food choice, and sugar in drinks. The program offers sessions in both primary and high schools with the sessions being tailored according to their content so as to meet the requirements of the group (Rose, 2014). It is usually conducted at a Foodbank’s fully equipped kitchen or school and includes a practical cooking workshop. It is also important to note that the food bank provides all the ingredients and equipment for each and every session with each session being facilitated by a tertiary qualified dietitian and nutritionist. The schools are only required to provide an appropriate space for the sessions to be conducted and also provide the minor requirements such as tables and the access to power and water.

The Food Sensation Program is an essential tool that assists the children to learn new skills. Research studies conducted on the effectiveness of the program have indicated that most of the students who participated in it tend to think more of what they consume and are encouraged to change their dietary behaviors and hence result to consuming healthier foods. They manage to identify the healthy foods and the foods which they are supposed to eat most or least. As such, the program is key in reinforcing major healthy eating programs. Not only is the program important to the students alone, but the teachers also benefit from it since it fits into the curriculum and complements what the children have already been taught concerning nutrition. They are also much more receptive to this program since it involves minimal effort on their side. Relatedly, the program builds essential skills around hygiene and cooking and also goes a long way in trying to teach the students about taking responsibility for their individual food preparation. Consequently, it encourages them to try out new foods and particularly fruits or vegetables which were new to them.

Identify and evaluate a different nutrition education or health promotion approach/program that is available for children and adolescents in Australia or internationally

The Foodbank WA’s School Breakfast Program

The Foodbank WA’s School Breakfast Program is another different type of a nutrition program that is available for children and students in Australia. The program supplies food to registered schools without charging anything and makes sure that all students are accorded an equal chance to receive a nutritious breakfast on a regular basis. It has grown from distributing breakfast to 17 schools back in 2001 to more than 450 schools in the present date. Currently, the program supports more than 18,000 students and serves more than 55,000 breakfast and 22,500 emergency meals on a weekly basis and consequently becoming the largest operation of such a kind (Booth, 2001). The primary purpose of this program is to identify a core group of students who previously arrived at school having had little or no breakfast at all. Though the reasons behind the program vary widely ranging from low income, poverty to low income, lack of access to nutritious foods and remoteness makes children and adolescents vulnerable to food insecurity. It ensures that all students have an equal opportunity to access a healthy and nutritious breakfast on a daily basis. Moreover, the program is used in providing emergency meals such as lunch and recess during the school day.

Despite the fact that the Foodbank WA has played a crucial role in trying to assist the vulnerable populations and particularly young children and adolescents in Australia, there are several recommendations that it can put in practice so as to enhance the school breakfast program. It could increase the provision and variety of the current perishable products such as vegetables, milk, fruits, and juice. It could also focus on the provision of products that are currently not available in their list of products. They may include eggs, plastic bags that are sealable, ham and food that is suitable for lunches such as rice and thick soups.


The impact of the Breakfast program on the students, teachers as well as the community is far much profound than it was primarily imagined. Despite the fact that a soothing stomach is the most immediate advantage of the program, it is also improving the food security and nutrition of children who are living in poverty by providing them with an equal chance to excel socially, emotionally as well as academically. It has managed to purchase the breakfast items and pay for their freight to deliver the breakfast products to the registered schools. Recent research findings indicate that the program had a positive impact on the student’s learning capacity with the registered schools showing that they experienced positive effects based on three classifications i.e. personal and social capacity, schooling and social and environmental factors (AIH, 2015). The program reaches a broad range of children with different needs ranging from the physical requirements of simply being fed to a variety of emotional requirements which had in the past resulted in a poor engagement in school activities. It fulfills a range of needs and delivers a range of benefits.

The program also contributes to several factors such as the physical health of students, their concentration, the social relations between them and the school staff, their awareness of healthy eating, the health promoting environment of schools as well as improvement of the students’ social skills. It also contributes to the mental health of students, their behavior and more so eating behavior, punctuality, attendance, as and also their engagement in both classroom and co-curricular activities. Finally, it also positively impacts on the students’ academic outcomes, their food selection skills, and their social relationships with the members of the community.


Food insecurity is in existence but mostly hidden in Australia. Poverty lies deep at its heart. There is a rise on the divide between the haves and the have-nots. This fact does not portend well for the future. There is a variety of determinants that can perpetuate or cause food insecurity, affecting a person’s ability to afford, prepare and store food. In the long run, strong social, health and food interventions and policies are needed so as to give all people in Australia a chance to enjoy the healthy, affordable and sustainable food. In an example of a clinical setting, practitioners should be aware of the dietary and social behaviors of their patients. It is vital if food insecurity is detected that the issue is monitored and referrals for additional support be made. This report has brought attention to areas in which further research and data are needed, the most pressing being economic evidence. It has also shown the potential benefits if actions are taken to rid Australia out of food insecurity. In the long term, food security will help in improving the patient’s health and most likely reduce the need for clinical care.


When I was carrying out my research on food insecurity and the part played by Foodbank, it was vividly clear that this was not just a concept, but there existed real life situations that involve it. Within the period I have been studying, I have known and seen food insecurity and the way it has been impacted by low incomes and the probable outcomes being poor health. Through the theories and statistics that I have come across during this assignment, I have increased my knowledge and understanding of food insecurity. Many people living in the western parts of Australia, struggle with food insecurity on a daily basis. Foodbank has turned the facts, figures, and definitions have made me picture the effects and the struggles people face.

Being in a health profession, I believe that this assignment has already affected my future professional life quite significantly. My main takeaway from this experience is keeping an open mind towards the promotion of healthy eating habits. The choice of food and food intake is a priority for any individual over meeting a particular dietary guideline. Also, if I’ll be promoting health nutrition programs, I will keep close attention to food access and availability and be an ambassador of food nutrition for all individuals.

Personally, on the course of this reflection, I had to take a closer look at the food I had stored. It is embarrassing to admit that I threw out a lot of vegetables as they had gone bad. It was such a waste, leaving food that would have helped families in the mid of food insecurity, go bad. I felt guilty of food wastage, and this made feel like I had lost all integrity with myself. This, I hope, will serve as an all-time reminder that I should keep my food literacy in check. My take away from this is that people should be consistent as they plan their menus so as to reduce food wastages and there should be forums to discuss this so that we can instill this into the future too.


Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet. (2015). Foodbank WA Food Sensations Program Programs and projects « Key resources « Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet. Retrieved from

Booth, S., & Smith, A. (2001). Food security and poverty in Australia--challenges for dietitians.(Review paper). Australian Journal of Nutrition and Dietetics, 58(3), 150-157.

Foodbank WA. (2015). Food Sensations | Superhero Foods HQ by Foodbank WA! Retrieved from

Foodbank Western Australia. (2017). Food Sensations® For Schools - Foodbank Western Australia. Retrieved from

Healthy Food For All®. (2017). Healthy Food For All | Home Page. Retrieved from

Meredith Butcher, L., Rose Chester, M., Michelle Aberle, L., Jo-Ann Bobongie, V., Davies, C., Louise Godrich, S., ... & Begley, A. (2014). Foodbank of Western Australia's healthy food for all. British Food Journal, 116(9), 1490-1505.

Pollard, C. M., Lewis, J. M., & Binns, C. W. (2008). Selecting interventions to promote fruit and vegetable consumption: from policy to action, a planning framework case study in Western Australia. Australia and New Zealand Health Policy, 5(1), 27.

Booth, S., & Whelan, J. (2014). Hungry for change: the food banking industry in Australia. British Food Journal, 116(9), 1392-1404.

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