202959 Plain language for nutrition education: Lessons in health literacy from Food Stamp clients

Monday, November 9, 2009

Stephanie Grutzmacher, PhD , Department of Family Studies, School of Public Health, University of Maryland, College Park, MD
Lisa Lachenmayr, MS , Food Stamp Nutrition Education, University of Maryland Cooperative Extension, Columbia, MD
Jane F. Kostenko, MEd , Food Supplement Nutrition Education - St. Mary's County, University of Maryland, Leonardtown, MD
This paper presents findings from a study of food stamp eligible adults to explore strengths and needs related to health and nutrition literacy. It shares related strategies for working with low-literacy audiences in the context of community health and nutrition education programs. In addition to exploring the correlates of low nutrition literacy, participants will have the opportunity to explore pedagogical techniques, plain language in curricular and print materials, and other helpful resources in working with low-literacy audiences. Participants will also have the opportunity to exchange ideas and pedagogical techniques that, in their own experience, have led to successful outcomes with low-literacy audiences.

The consideration of basic health and nutrition literacy skills in nutrition education programming with at-risk families improves effectiveness and sustainability by arming educators with much-needed reach to vulnerable families. Incorporating plain language techniques into curricula and materials will also increase the probability of sustainable behavior change among audiences. Parents' improved ability to understand, process, and apply health and nutrition information to their lives may have lasting implications for children's health as well. These techniques are supported by research on health communication, health interventions, and health literacy that suggest that plain language, a limited number of key health messages, dialog teaching and learning, and culturally-relevant content all support learning and behavior change. Additionally, this content is primarily driven based on findings from a health and nutrition literacy needs assessment specifically investigating knowledge, skills, and behaviors of food stamp eligible adults.

Learning Objectives:
Evaluate the health and nutrition literacy status of Food Stamp clients, including specific strengths and challenges in understanding and utilizing health and nutrition information. Identify barriers to nutrition education and behavior change relevant to low-literacy audiences. Describe pedagogical techniques to engage low-literacy learners in nutrition and health education programs. Demonstrate techniques for improving the content and appearance of materials intended for use with low-literacy audiences.

Keywords: Nutrition, Health Literacy

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am conducting a health and nutrition literacy research project with Food Stamp eligible adults and have program evaluation experience with the Maryland Food Stamp Nutrition Education program.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.