The purpose of this study was to examine associations between parental health literacy and parent attitudes about weight control strategies for young children. Parental low health literacy has been associated with poor child health outcomes, yet little is known about its relationship to child weight control and weight-related health information-seeking preferences. Data were drawn from the STRONG Kids Study, a Midwest panel survey among parents of preschool aged children (n = 497). Parents endorsed an average of 4.3 (SD = 2.8) weight loss strategies, 53% endorsed all three recommended weight loss strategies for children, and fewer than 1% of parents endorsed any unsafe strategies. Parents were most likely to seek child weight loss information from healthcare professionals but those with low (vs. adequate) health literacy were significantly less likely to use the Internet or books and more likely to use minister/clergy as sources. Poisson and logistic regressions showed that higher health literacy was associated with endorsement of more strategies overall, more recommended strategies, and greater odds of endorsing each specific recommended strategy for child weight control, after adjusting for parent age, education, race/ethnicity, income, marital status, weight concern, and child BMI percentile. Findings suggest that health literacy impacts parental views about child weight loss strategies and health information-seeking preferences. Pediatric weight loss advice to parents should include assessment of parent attitudes and prior knowledge about child weight control and facilitate parent access to reliable sources of evidence-informed child weight control information.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)200-208
Number of pages9
StatePublished - Aug 1 2015


  • Child weight control
  • Dieting
  • Health communication
  • Health literacy
  • Information-seeking
  • Weight loss strategies

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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