Nutrition professionals are important stakeholders in sustainable food systems with skills to promote the connection between health, food production, environment, culture and economics. Higher education institutions are increasingly recognising the importance of teaching about sustainability, yet there exists a gap in the literature detailing the awareness of sustainability issues by nutrition students. This study aimed to ascertain the level of knowledge of sustainable diets (SDs), the perceived barriers to their adoption in their own diets, students' experience of university-based teaching about SDs and their views on the future role of the nutrition profession in relation to SD amongst nutrition students on Association for Nutrition (AfN)-accredited degrees. The study assessed environmental and sustainable food literacy (SFL) through an online questionnaire and explored the issues in more detail in virtual or face-to-face interviews in 2019. Quantitative data were analysed using descriptive statistics (Kruskal-Wallis, Jonckheere-Terpstra, independent t-test, Spearman, Pearson Correlations). Qualitative data were analysed using the Braun and Clark (2006) six-step approach to thematic analysis. The questionnaire responses (n = 51) represented 17 AfN-accredited undergraduate courses (35% of AfN-accredited universities in 2019). The majority (76%) of students had received an introduction, partaken in a module or received teaching on SDs throughout their whole degree. Students were predominantly environmentally literate, yet had a fragmented understanding of SDs, focusing on the environmental aspects of SDs. There was no correlation between SFL and reported sustainability content of university courses, highlighting a need for more effective teaching on sustainability topics. Additionally, no relationship between self-reported diet intake and SFL was found. Students identified a lack of knowledge and education as barriers preventing them from adopting sustainable practices in the present and future. To integrate sustainability into their future practice more consistently and effectively, nutrition students require more structured, holistic sustainability education and knowledge.

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