Performance Improvement 2011-2012. For Consumers with Limited Health Literacy, What are their Food Choice Beliefs, Attitudes, and Behaviors?


Six focus groups were conducted as formative research about food choice attitudes and behaviors among adults with low health literacy. Researchers sought to learn about participants' knowledge, attitudes and behaviors related to their food planning and selection decisions, identify barriers and motivators to healthy eating, examine participants' understanding of food groups and health-related food characteristics, examine reactions to various images that may be used to help identify effective methods to depict food portion sizes, and identify healthy eating goals and messages.

This research informed the communication of the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The research yielded the following recommended strategy: To develop a set of materials that provides information about the Dietary Guidelines coupled with images to visualize portion sizes and concrete examples as well as actionable messages that suggest what people can do to meet the guidelines and overcome barriers, and that explain potential benefits from new behaviors. Examples include:  (1) provide information and tools enabling people to make ‘healthy eating' choices in everyday situations; (2) use images or information about the health conditions and risk factors of not eating healthy; (3) refer to the actionable goals most often mentioned by the focus groups such as increasing knowledge of nutritional content, eating smaller portions, eating more fruits and vegetables and less fat; (4) use measuring instruments as tools for visualizing portion size; (5) be careful about using reference objects as a way to determine portion size; (6) include low-cost, easy-to-prepare, healthy eating options so people can more easily adopt the dietary guidelines.

Report Title: 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans Consumer Focus Group Testing on Adults with Limited Health Literacy
Agency Sponsor: OASH, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health
Federal Contact: Rachel Hayes, 240 8252
Performer: American Institutes for Research (AIR)
Record ID: 9205 (Report issued December 31, 2010)

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