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Nutrition Education and Literacy

We conduct research that focuses on the challenges of nutrition literacy, or the capacity to understand and act upon nutrition information.

doctor reviews a label on a bottleResearch Focus Areas

Nutrition information can be difficult for anyone to understand, and many people struggle to make healthy food choices. Dr. Health Gibbs' current studies investigate how to improve dietary behavior in the presence of low nutrition literacy through nutrition education interventions in both clinical settings and using mobile tools. In addition, we partner with educators and researchers in other disciplines at the University of Kansas to deliver interprofessional education and research this emerging teaching methodology as part of KU's dietetic internship curriculum.

Our Projects

Gibbs' 2013 pilot study to adapt her nutrition literacy assessment instrument (NLit) for the breast cancer population found relationships between nutrition literacy and diet quality. [doi: 10.1007/s13187-015-0851-y]

She also partnered with the Maternal and Child Nutrition and Development Laboratory to measure nutrition literacy in parents of children between 4-6 years of age. They found that higher nutrition literacy was associated with better diet quality among children. [doi: 10.1016/j.jneb.2016.04.006]

In addition, Gibbs partnered with Paula Cupertino and the Kansas City-based Juntos Center for Advancing Latino Health to translate these concepts into other languages and cultures. [DOI: 10.1007/s10903-017-0678-1]

Gibbs also traveled to Juiz de Fora, Brazil, in 2014 to discuss her ideas of nutrition literacy measurement with researchers, clinicians, and students at Centro HiperDia and the Federal University of Juiz de Fora (Universidade Fedral de Juiz de For a).

Her work to develop an instrument (NLit) for comprehensively measuring nutrition literacy was supported by the NIH's National Institute of Child Health and Development. The tool was found to be valid and reliable in an adult population with nutrition-related chronic disease. [DOI: 10.1016/j.jneb.2017.10.008.] A copy of the tool can be requested online or in print.

Interprofessional Education Efforts

As an instructor of medical nutrition therapy courses in KU's dietetic internship program, Gibbs partners with members of the Center for Interprofessional Education and Simulation at KU Medical Center to incorporate nutrition in the campus interprofessional education initiatives as well as provide interprofessional experiences for the dietetic student interns.

For her role in these efforts, Gibbs has been designated the "IPE Champion" representing the Department of Dietetics and Nutrition on the School of Health Professions working group created to strengthen and expand interprofessional education.

Heather Gibbs portraitLab Director

Heather Gibbs, Ph.D., RD, LD
Associate Professor

Study Participation

Nutrition literacy work is ongoing. If you are interested in participating in one of our studies, we would love to connect with you! Please contact us at

School of Health Professions

Dietetics and Nutrition
KU Medical Center
3901 Rainbow Boulevard
Mailstop 4013
Kansas City, KS 66160
913-588-5355 • 711 TTY