Development of food literacy in children and adolescents: implications for the design of strategies to promote healthier and more sustainable diets

Gastón Ares, Sofia De Rosso, Carina Mueller, Kaat Philippe, Abigail Pickard, Sophie Nicklaus, Ellen van Kleef, Paula Varela*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Food literacy has emerged as a key individual trait to promote the transformation of food systems toward healthy and sustainable diets. Childhood and adolescence are key periods for establishing the foundations of eating habits. Different food literacy competencies are acquired as children develop different cognitive abilities, skills, and experiences, contributing to the development of critical tools that allow them to navigate a complex food system. Thus, the design and implementation of programs to support the development of food literacy from early childhood can contribute to healthier and more sustainable eating habits. In this context, the aim of the present narrative review is to provide an in-depth description of how different food literacy competencies are developed in childhood and adolescence, integrating the extensive body of evidence on cognitive, social, and food-related development. Implications for the development of multisectoral strategies to target the multidimensional nature of food literacy and promote the development of the 3 types of competencies (relational, functional, and critical) are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages17
JournalNutrition Reviews
Early online date20 Jun 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 20 Jun 2023

Bibliographical note

Copyright © The Author(s), 2023. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the International Life Sciences Institute. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs licence (, which permits non-commercial reproduction and distribution of the work, in any medium, provided the original work is not altered or transformed in any way, and that the work is properly cited. For commercial re-use, please contact

Funding: The review was conducted in the context of the project “Edulia: Bringing down barriers to children’s healthy eating,” which received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under the Marie Skodowska-Curie grant
agreement 764985.


  • adolescence
  • childhood
  • food literacy
  • food skills
  • nutrition education


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