Over the recent past, there has been an increase in nutrition information available to adolescents from various sources, which resulted into confusion and misinterpretation of the dietary advice. Results from international assessment frameworks such as PISA and TIMMS reflect the need for adolescents to critically appraise health information. While a number of scales measuring the critical health literacy of individuals exist; very few of these are devoted to critical nutrition literacy. More so, these scales target individuals with an advanced level of nutrition education, often gaging their proficiency in information appraisal in relation to principles of evidence-based medical research. The purpose of the present study was to examine the psychometric properties of a newly developed critical nutrition literacy scale (CNL-E) measuring adolescents’ perceived proficiency in ‘critically evaluating nutrition information from various sources’.
During spring 2015, more than 1600 tenth graders aged 15–16 years from approximately 60 schools in Norway responded to the five-item questionnaire using an electronic survey system. Applying Rasch analysis approach, we examined the psychometric properties of the CNL-E scale employing the RUMM2030 statistical package. To further investigate the dimensionality of the scale and test the underlying structure, we applied multidimensional Rasch modelling using the ConQuest 4 software and confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) using the Lisrel 9.30 software.
In our sample, the CNL-E stood out as a valid, reliable and well-targeted scale with good overall fit to the partial credit parameterization of the polytomous unidimensional Rasch model (PCM). All the items were sufficiently statistically independent, had ordered response categories and showed acceptable individual fit to the PCM. No item displayed within-item bias or differential item functioning (DIF).
From the observed CNL-E sum score, it is possible to draw plausible conclusions about how individuals critically evaluate nutrition information. Efforts to improve communication of nutrition information could benefit from applying validated measures such as the CNL-E scale. The CNL-E scale provides insight into how individuals without an advanced level of nutrition education, such as adolescents, determine the validity and reliability of nutrition information from various sources.
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