Readability and content analysis of lifestyle education resources for weight management in Australian general practice

Nouhad El-Haddad, Catherine Spooner, Nighat Faruqi, Elizabeth Denney-Wilson and Mark Harris
Publication type: 
Journal article
Stream 2 Disadvantaged populations

BMC Obesity 3(1):1-9


Background: Weight management education is one of the key strategies to assist patients to manage their weight.

Educational resources provide an important adjunct in the chain of communication between practitioners and

patients. However, one in five Australian adults has low health literacy. The purpose of this study was to assess the

readability and analyse the content of weight management resources.

Methods: This study is based on the analysis of 23 resources found in the waiting rooms of ten Sydney-based

general practices and downloaded from two clinical software packages used at these practices. The reading grade

level of these resources was calculated using the Flesch Reading Ease, Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level, Fry Readability

Graph, and the Simplified Measure of Gobbledygook. Resources’ content was analysed for the presence of dietary,

physical activity, and behaviour change elements, as recommended by the Clinical practice guidelines for the

management of overweight and obesity in adults, adolescents, and children in Australia.

Results: The resources’ average reading grade level was for a 10th grader (9.5 ± 1.8). These findings highlight that

the average reading grade level was two grades higher than the recommended reading grade level for health

education resources of 8th grade level or below. Seventy percent of resources contained dietary and behaviour

change elements. Physical activity was included in half of the resources. Two messages were identified to be

inconsistent with the guidelines and three messages had no scientific basis.

Conclusion: A body of evidence now exists that supports the need to develop evidence-based education

resources for weight management that place low demand on literacy, without compromising content accuracy.

The findings from this study suggest that there is significant room for improvement in the educational resources

provided in general practices.

The full text of this study is available here.