Health literacy and fruit and vegetable intake in rural Australia

Siew Lim, Alison Beauchamp, Sarity Dodson, Jonathan O’Hara, Crystal McPhee, Alexandra Fulton, Carol Wildey, Richard H. Osborne

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: Adequate fruit and vegetable intake is important in the prevention of chronic disease. Health literacy is associated with health outcomes but its role in dietary behaviour has received little attention. The present study investigated the association between a multidimensional measure of health literacy, sociodemographic characteristics, and fruit and vegetable intake in rural Australia. Design: A cross-sectional survey on intake of fruits and vegetables (servings/d), demographic characteristics and health literacy profile using a nine-scale Health Literacy Questionnaire (HLQ). Associations between health literacy and fruit and vegetable intake were assessed using logistic regression. Setting: A large rural area of Victoria. Subjects: Adults residing in the Grampians region (n 1154; 61 % female, mean age 52 (sd 17) years). Results: The HLQ scale ‘Actively managing my health’ predicted (OR; 95 % CI) fruit (2·31; 1·87, 2·84) and vegetable (1·81; 1·45, 2·26) intake. The scales ‘Appraisal of health information’ (fruits: 1·73; 1·41, 2·13; vegetables: 1·49; 1·20, 1·86), ‘Social support for health’ (fruits: 1·31; 1·06, 1·63; vegetables: 1·40; 1·10, 1·76) and ‘Ability to find good health information’ (fruits: 1·25; 1·05, 1·48; vegetables: 1·36; CI 1·13, 1·63) also predicted fruit and vegetable intake. These associations remained significant after adjusting for age, gender, educational attainment and having private health insurance. Conclusions: Health literacy, particularly being proactive, appraising information and having social support for health, is associated with greater fruit and vegetable intake. Future interventions should consider the health literacy needs of the community to improve fruit and vegetable intake.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2680-2684
Number of pages5
JournalPublic Health Nutrition
Issue number15
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Diet
  • Health behaviour
  • Health promotion
  • Nutrition
  • Prevention

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