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, 25 (4), 1343-1357

Health Literacy in a Complex Digital Media Landscape: Pediatric Obesity Patients' Experiences With Online Weight, Food, and Health Information

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Health Literacy in a Complex Digital Media Landscape: Pediatric Obesity Patients' Experiences With Online Weight, Food, and Health Information

Christopher Holmberg et al. Health Informatics J.

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.

Keywords: adolescent; eHealth literacy; media literacy; obesity; online food marketing; pediatrics.

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