News Bite: FDA Launches Campaign to Improve Health Literacy

The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) recently announced a new initiative called Healthy People, intended to improve the health literacy of the American public. Health literacy is the ability to obtain and understand basic health services. According to the National Assessment of Adult Literacy, only 12 percent of US adults have the skills to manage and prevent disease. Health literacy includes the ability to understand general health concepts, including reading nutrition labels, understanding your cholesterol levels, etc.  Health literacy is not related to a person’s intelligence, but is more about a person’s exposure to health and nutrition topics. According to FDA, health literacy is inversely related to frequency of emergency room visits and healthcare costs (e.g. higher health literacy is associated with fewer ER visits and lower healthcare costs).

FDA’s initiative includes developing resources in easy-to-understand language that can help consumers understand the impact of certain diet and lifestyle choices on their health. FDA is required by law to provide clear explanations for complex scientific topics into easy-to-understand language.

For more information and resources, visit FDA’s Consumer Update.

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