Memory Abilities Are Selectively Related to Food Label and Numeracy Nutrition Skills

Rhea Sarma, Nathaniel Willis, Tori A. Holthaus, Corinne N. Cannavale, Heather D. Gibbs, Naiman Khan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: We investigated the relationship between nutrition literacy, diet quality, carotenoid status, and cognition. Methods: Adults aged 37.5 ± 17.0 years (n = 52) completed the 42-item Nutrition Literacy Assessment Instrument (NLit). The Dietary History Questionnaire III was analyzed to determine the Healthy Eating Index. Skin carotenoids were assessed as a diet quality biomarker. Selective attention, relational memory, and pattern separation abilities were assessed using the flanker, spatial reconstruction, and mnemonic similarity tasks, respectively. Statistical adjustments included age, sex, education, and body mass index. Results: No correlations were observed for NLit scores and NLit subscales with Healthy Eating Index and skin carotenoid status. However, the NLit's food label and numeracy subscale was related to greater pattern separation abilities (ρ = 0.33, r2 = 0.11, P = 0.03). Conclusions and Implications: Comprehension of food labels and numeracy information was associated with memory abilities. Future work is needed to test whether targeting working memory and attentional processes during memory retrieval in larger samples may facilitate the acquisition of nutrition knowledge.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)861-868
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Nutrition Education and Behavior
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2023


  • cognition
  • dietary guidelines
  • food label
  • nutrition literacy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)


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