The objective of this cross-sectional study was to examine the nutrition literacy status of adults in the Lower Mississippi Delta.
Survey instruments included the Newest Vital Sign and an adapted version of the Health Information National Trends Survey. A proportional quota sampling plan was used to represent educational achievement of residents in the Delta region. Participants included 177 adults, primarily African Americans (81%). Descriptive statistics, χ2 analysis, analysis of variance, and multivariate analysis of covariance tests were used to examine survey data.
Results indicated that 24% of participants had a high likelihood of limited nutrition literacy, 28% had a possibility of limited nutrition literacy, and 48% had adequate nutrition literacy. Controlling for income and education level, the multivariate analysis of covariance models revealed that nutrition literacy was significantly associated with media use for general purposes (F = 2.79, P = .005), media use for nutrition information (F = 2.30, P = .04), and level of trust from nutrition sources (F = 2.29, P = .005). Overall, the Internet was the least trusted and least used source for nutrition information. Only 12% of participants correctly identified the 2005 MyPyramid graphic, and the majority (78%) rated their dietary knowledge as poor or fair.
Compared with other national surveys, rates of limited health literacy among Delta adults were high. Nutrition literacy status has implications for how people seek nutrition information and how much they trust it. Understanding the causes and consequences of limited nutrition literacy may be a step toward reducing the burden of nutrition-related chronic diseases among disadvantaged rural communities.