Friday, 24 May 2013

Our nutrition and the relationship with numeracy and literacy

Over and over again we are told to read the labels on our food purchases. Even take away foods need to include information on the content of the food.

It has been shown lower literacy and numeracy are often associated with poorer
health outcomes. Our nutrition is critical to our health, so what affect does poor literacy and numeracy have on our selection of food products, and managing our diet.

A research article from the American Journal of Preventative Medicine (cited below) published in 2006 states"
"...literacy status and numeracy status remained significantly associated with poorer understanding of nutrition labels even after adjusting for income, education, and other factors. Previous studies have demonstrated that patients with poor literacy skills have worse knowledge of their chronic illness and can have worse clinical outcomes..."p.396

This study highlights once again the importance of thinking about your audience when providing information to patients. 

Check out this version of "Preventing Constipation" developed by the UK Bristol Primary Care Trust. 

Email Cathy at to ask how you can make information more accessible for your audiences.

Am J Prev Med. 2006 Nov;31(5):391-8., Patient Understanding of Food Labels. The Role of Literacy and Numeracy by Russell L. Rothman, MD, MPP, Ryan Housam, BS, Hilary Weiss, BS, Dianne Davis, RD CDE,Rebecca Gregory, MS, RD CDE, Tebeb Gebretsadik, MPH, Ayumi Shintani, PhD, MPH, Tom A. Elasy, MD, MPH downloaded 24 May 2013 at
Preventing constipation. 2008 UK Bristol Primary Care Trust. downloaded 24 May 2013


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