245277 Examining the association between health literacy and obesity in Hispanic vulnerable populations

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Suad F. Ghaddar, PhD , South Texas Border Health Disparities Center, The University of Texas-Pan American, Edinburg, TX
Melissa A. Valerio, PhD , Hbhe, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI
Liza Talavera-Garza, PhD , South Texas Border Health Disparities Center, The University of Texas-Pan American, Edinburg, TX
Xiaohui Wang, PhD , Department of Mathematics, The University of Texas-Pan American, Edinburg, TX
Background: Inadequate health literacy has been tied to poorer health outcomes, lower utilization of preventive health services, higher risk of hospitalization, and increased mortality rates. However, there is a paucity of research exploring the potential influence of health literacy on obesity. This study aims to investigate the association between inadequate health literacy and obesity among Hispanic workers in South Texas. Methods: We conducted cross sectional analysis of data collected from 228 Hispanic manufacturing workers in South Texas. Participants were classified as obese if their BMI was ≥ 30. Health literacy was assessed using the Short Test of Functional Health Literacy in Adults. Logistic regression was used to examine the association between obesity and health literacy controlling for gender, education, age, marital status, income, language, self-reported health status, physical activity levels, and sleep duration. Results: Participants were primarily men (72%) with an average age of 40 years. Slightly less than half (44%) were obese and the majority (88%) were categorized as having adequate health literacy. Participants with inadequate levels of health literacy were more likely to be obese (OR:2.88, 95% CI:1.05-7.95) relative to those with adequate health literacy. Other factors associated with obesity were poor/fair health (OR:2.18, 95% CI:1.10-4.31), inadequate sleep (OR:2.75, 95% CI:1.27-5.96), and physical inactivity (OR:1.84, 95% CI:1.01-3.33). Conclusion: Study findings highlight the need to address the often-overlooked role of health literacy in obesity prevention strategies. Inadequate health literacy has implications for the design and translation of interventions addressing the disproportionate rate of obesity in marginalized and vulnerable populations.

Learning Areas:
Assessment of individual and community needs for health education
Occupational health and safety
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs

Learning Objectives:
1. Assess the association between health literacy and obesity 2. Demonstrate the need for incorporating health literacy promotion in obesity prevention programs

Keywords: Health Literacy, Obesity

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been involved over the past two years in examining and planning health literacy promotion programs in the workplace and within the educational system.
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.