Age- and Sex-Specific Impact of Health Literacy on Healthy Lifestyle Characteristics among Japanese Residents in a Rural Community


The study aimed to examine age- and sex-specific associations between health literacy (HL) and healthy lifestyle characteristics. The cross-sectional study was conducted to examine a total 1348 Japanese participants (613 male and 735 female) who took the health check-up program in April 2013, at Tsumagoi Village, Japan. Information was collected by self-administered questionnaire on three communicative and two critical HL items, and healthy lifestyle characteristics listed in Bres-low’s seven health practices. In multivariate logistic analysis, high HL (≥18) was significantly asso-ciated with healthy lifestyle characteristics in both non-elderly (<65 years old) and elderly (≥65 years old) [Odds ratio (OR) = 1.40, 95% Confidence interval (CI) = 1.13 - 1.75 for non-elderly, OR = 1.34, 95% CI = 1.02 - 1.76 for elderly], as well as female participants (OR = 1.43, 95% CI = 1.06 - 1.94), while the significance was borderline in male participants (OR = 1.34, 95% CI = 0.96 - 1.88). Among 5 HL items, the ability to extract health-related information was significantly associated with healthy lifestyle characteristics (OR = 1.52, 95% CI = 1.11 - 2.07 for non-elderly, OR = 1.55, 95% CI = 1.04 - 2.30 for elderly, OR = 1.95, 95% CI = 1.28 - 2.97 for female participants. HDL-C concentration in the high HL group was significantly higher than that in the low HL group. Among healthy lifestyle characteristics, proportions of smoking behavior (non-smoker), exercise frequency (twice or more per week), and sleep duration (7 - 8 hours) were significantly higher in the high HL group than in the low HL group. The present study revealed a positive association between HL and healthy lifestyle characteristics, which suggests that people are likely to engage in health-promoting behaviours based on access and ability to understand medical information for both age groups and female participants. Significant findings among female participants may be emphasized since it’s important from the entire family's perspective as women are the caretakers of the family. These findings may indicate the importance of comprehensive assessment, including HL, for health promotion in the community.

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Yokokawa, H. , Yuasa, M. , Sanada, H. , Hisaoka, T. and Fukuda, H. (2015) Age- and Sex-Specific Impact of Health Literacy on Healthy Lifestyle Characteristics among Japanese Residents in a Rural Community. Health, 7, 679-688. doi: 10.4236/health.2015.76081.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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