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How adolescent patients enrolled in an outpatient pediatric obesity clinic experience online weight-, food-, and health information

Authors Christopher Holmberg
Christina Berg
Jovanna Dahlgren
Lauren Lissner
John Chaplin
Published in Obesity Facts, Vol. 10, Suppl. 1
ISSN 1662-4025
Publication year 2017
Published at Institute of Medicine, Department of Public Health and Community Medicine
Institute of Clinical Sciences, Department of Pediatrics
Department of Food and Nutrition, and Sport Science
Language en
Subject categories Media Studies, Human Aspects of ICT, Pediatrics


Introduction: This study aimed to explore digital media and information health literacy competencies among pediatric patients undergoing treatment for obesity. How the patients search for and select online information regarding food, body weight, and health, and how they experience this information was also explored. Methods: Twenty adolescent patients with obesity were interviewed. The participants were between 13-16 years old and enrolled at Swedish university hospital clinic. Participants used a computer with Internet access to demonstrate search procedures and online information sources they used. The interviews were audio recorded and search activities on the computer were recorded via screen capture software. Qualitative content analysis was used to categorize the transcribed interview material. Results: The participants described that they foremost searched for fun and easy ways to lose weight. Participants expressed that they encountered a wealth of food content in their online social networks which could be inspiring but it could also be tempting and as negative for weight management. Adolescents’ described variation in search- and evaluation skills. Some participants assessed the trustworthiness of information by comparing different sources while others selected sources based on convenience and visual appeal. The participants described experiences such as gaining social support with others with obesity that had lost weight, but described being discouraged by unattainably successful fitness models. They also expressed disengagement in weight management due to deceptive commercial information. Conclusion: Digital media resources proved to be a source for inspiration, information and social support but required critical literacy skills. The conventional division between media- and information literacy is increasingly distorted as more complex social media communication is taking place. Commercial content was often experienced as tailored (e.g. persuasive marketing), and personal information as mediatized (e.g. food marketing transmitted by peers in online social networks). To guide pediatric patients in how to autonomously manage their diet and weight management, it is essential to focus on adolescents’ ability to assess online health information and to foster their critical media literacy skills.

Page Manager: Webmaster|Last update: 9/11/2012

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