Objective: To test the relationship between child health literacy and body mass index (BMI) Z-score in overweight children. Methods: Cross-sectional survey of overweight children and parents. Parent and child health literacy was measured by the Short Test of Functional Health Literacy (STOFHLA). Linear regression tested for predictors of childhood BMI Z-score, adjusting for confounders. Results: Of 171 total children, 107 (62%) participated, of whom 78 (73%) had complete data for analysis. Mean child BMI Z-score (SD) was 2.3 (0.40); median child age (interquartile range) was 11.5 (10-16); 53% were female; 80% were Medicaid recipients. Mean child STOFHLA was 22.9 (9.0); mean parental STOFHLA was 29.1 (8.6). Child STOFHLA correlated negatively with BMI Z-score (r = -0.37, p = 0.0009) and positively with child eating self-efficacy (r = 0.40, p < 0.0001). After adjusting for confounders, child STOFHLA was independently associated with child BMI Z-score (standardized B = -0.43, p < 0.0001). Overall adjusted r-squared for the regression model was 38%. Child STOFHLA contributed 13% to the overall model. Conclusions: Child health literacy was negatively correlated with BMI Z-scores in overweight children, suggesting the need to consider health literacy in the intersection between self-efficacy and behavior change when planning interventions that aim to improve child BMI. © 2009 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.
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