Objectives: The purpose of this research is to assess the structural, functional, and content quality of weight-loss related websites. Methods: The 'Yahoo' and 'Yam' search engines were used to search for websites using "weight-loss" and "body sculpture" as keywords. A total of 120 websites were selected and their contents were analyzed. The basic characteristics and quality of the websites were coded according to predetermined criteria. Pearson correlation coefficient was calculated to test the association between two variables, and t test was used for group comparisons. Finally, regression was used to identify important predictors of quality. Results: More then 80% of the websites made no mention of authorship, sources, or publication date. However, 72.5% did provide the webmaster's email address, and 30% contained a Q&A function. More than 80% of the websites did not provide information on the minimum daily calorific intake, exercise intensity and quantity, or the ideal goal of weight-loss. Regression showed that after controlling for other variables, websites not involved in commercial activity, or websites with authorship information tended to have better content quality. Conclusion: Overall, most websites did not meet the structural and functional quality criteria used in this study. Furthermore, the content of weight-loss information appeared to be poor. Websites involved in commercial activity may avoid providing certain weight-loss information in order to promote their products. When viewing weight-loss websites, authorship information can be used as a proxy for the quality of content. Periodic assessment of websites is essential in monitoring the quality of weight-loss information on the internet. Health agencies should develop a clear standard for healthy weight-loss, and to provide an effective channel for the general public to obtain the correct weight-loss information.
- Quality of information
- World wide web
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health