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Journal Information
Vol. 46. Issue S5.
2nd World congress of health research
Pages 180-186 (November 2014)
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Vol. 46. Issue S5.
2nd World congress of health research
Pages 180-186 (November 2014)
Open Access
Implications of literacy for health for body mass index
Madalena Cunhaa,
Corresponding author

Corresponding author.
, Raquel Gaspara, Sónia Fonsecaa, Dina Almeidaa, Mónica Silvaa, Luís Nunesb
a Escola Superior de Saúde de Viseu, Instituto Politécnico de Viseu, Viseu, Portugal
b Escola Nacional de Saúde Pública, Lisboa, Portugal
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Literacy for health (LH) may be considered a set of skills that people appropriate, understand, evaluate and use information and knowledge of health to make informed choices, reduce risks to their health, maintain a healthy nutritional status and enhance quality of life.


To assess the level of literacy for health; analyse the relationship of socio-demographic variables with LH; to classify the Body Mass Index (BMI) and to determine the effect of LH on BMI.


a quantitative study with a descriptive and cross-sectional approach conducted in the centre and north of Portugal.

Particnipants: a non-probabilistic sample of 508 Portuguese participants with a mean age 44.48 years (SD = 21 years).

Measuring instruments

LH was assessed by the European Questionnaire on Literacy for Health (LHS-EU-PT) validated in Portuguese by Saboga-Nunes and Sorensen (2013) and BMI classification followed the WHO reference accepted by Portugal, DGS (2013).


It was found that overall, 73.62% of the participants have an inappropriate and problematic level of literacy for health; this was significantly lower in women (P=.000). Participants with inadequate LH, are those with higher BMI (χ2=78.09; P=.000), so are at risk of a sub-optimal state of health.


The results suggest a significant relationship between the LH and BMI. It is found that, the better the LH, the more appropriate is the BMI. This evidence reinforces the importance of promoting literacy for health to the Portuguese population.

Literacy for health
Body mass index
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Copyright © 2014. Elsevier España, S.L.U.. All rights reserved
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