Information to fight the flab: findings from the Net.Weight study

Audrey Marshall, Flis Henwood, Carlin Leslie, Elizabeth Guy, Tanya Sinozic, Helen Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The purpose of the paper is to examine information use and information literacy in the context of weight management. It reports on a two-year study funded by the Department of Health known informally as the Net.Weight Study. Net.Weight examined the potential for increased, innovative and effective uses of information and communication technologies (ICTs) to support the self management of weight. The research was conducted in the city of Brighton and Hove by an inter-disciplinary team from the University of Brighton. The paper gives a brief overview of the various methods used in the study as a whole but discusses one strand, the user survey, in more detail. The survey gathered data on people’s information and ICT use around weight management. The design of the survey questionnaire required the adaptation of existing literacy assessment instruments and this process is described in this paper. The findings show that people use a wide range of information sources for information and support around weight management. The most useful sources are slimming groups, food packaging, friends and family, magazines, TV and health books, thus representing a variety of media, formal and informal, and including human sources. The internet was reported to be a useful source for around half the survey respondents and is most often used for information about diet and exercise. A majority of respondents described themselves as active information seekers and confident about their information skills. They are less confident about internet information than information generally and even less confident about using the internet to support weight management activities.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)39-52
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Information Literacy
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2009

Bibliographical note

© The authors(s) and CILIP, Community Services Group, Information Literacy Group


  • Health information
  • information literacy
  • information sources
  • weight management
  • obesity
  • internet
  • self care


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