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Health literacy in a complex digital media landscape: Pediatric obesity patients’ experiences with online weight, food, and health information

Journal article
Authors Christopher Holmberg
Christina Berg
Jovanna Dahlgren
Lauren Lissner
John Chaplin
Published in Health Informatics Journal
Volume 25
Issue 4
Pages 1343-1357
ISSN 1460-4582
Publication year 2019
Published at Institute of Medicine, Department of Public Health and Community Medicine, Public Health Epidemiology Unit
Institute of Clinical Sciences, Department of Pediatrics
Department of Food and Nutrition, and Sport Science
Pages 1343-1357
Language en
Links https://doi.org/10.1177/14604582187...
Keywords adolescent, eHealth literacy, media literacy, obesity, online food marketing, pediatrics
Subject categories Domestic science and nutrition, Human Aspects of ICT, Health Sciences

Abstract

This study aimed to explore experiences with online information regarding food, weight management, and health in a group of adolescents in treatment for obesity. Individual semi-structured interviews with 20 adolescents were conducted. Participants used a screen-recorded laptop to demonstrate their search procedures and online information sources. The transcribed interviews were categorized using qualitative content analysis. The adolescents described both encouraging and discouraging experiences. On one hand, they said that online forums could provide nutritious meal ideas and inspiration as well as social support for behavior change. On the other hand, they mentioned that there was a confusing amount of misleading commercial content online and also experiences of peer-facilitated food marketing in online networks. An overarching theme was generated: social media might be a resource for health inspiration, health information, and social support, but requires awareness and competencies. Implications for clinical practice are discussed in light of these findings.

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