Health literacy and nutrition behaviors among low-income adults

Katherine E. Speirs, Lauren A. Messina, Ashley L. Munger, Stephanie K. Grutzmacher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


The purpose of this study was to explore the relationship between health literacy and nutrition behaviors using a low-income sample. Face-to-face surveys at 11 social services offices generated a convenience sample of 154 Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)-eligible adults. We assessed health literacy, fruit and vegetable intake, food label use, consumption of healthy foods, and demographic characteristics. Thirty seven percent of the sample had adequate health literacy as measured by the Newest Vital Sign (NVS). Race and parenthood were significantly related to health literacy scores. Adequate health literacy, as measured by the NVS, was associated with frying chicken less often and eating the peels of fresh fruit more often. The findings suggest that health practitioners should ensure nutrition-related messages are accessible to all of their clients, especially those with the lowest health literacy levels.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1082-1091
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of health care for the poor and underserved
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Health literacy
  • Low-income population
  • Nutrition behaviors
  • Nutrition labeling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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