Parental Health Literacy

Similar to data generated from RIPPLE (view the poster here), other studies have shown that ~70% of parents with overweight children misperceive their child’s weight status (Tompkins et al., 2015).

Iwordlen a recent narrative review, the author links the concept of health literacy with parent’s tendency to underestimate their overweight child’s weight status. Health literacy, which refers to “acquisition, understanding, and application of health information” may threaten traditional obesity prevention efforts. For example, public health messages regarding obesity prevention targeted towards parents may not be effective if the information is not adequately comprehended.

Findings from our study demonstrated that of those parents who accurately estimated their child’s weight status, a higher proportion had a post-secondary education in comparison to those parents who inaccurately estimated their child’s weight status (56.9% vs. 34.8%; p=0.009). This finding reinforces the author’s conclusion that parental health literacy, a concept tied to level of education, may be an under-recognized risk factor for overweight and obesity in children.


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