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Barriers and facilitators to healthy eating

In weight management, a key part of behaviour change is recognising barriers and facilitators to making changes to eating and exercise/physical activity behaviours.

In weight management, a key part of behaviour change is recognising barriers and facilitators to making changes to eating and exercise/physical activity behaviours. It is important to encourage those attempting to change their behaviour to identify their own barriers and ways to overcome these as well as their own facilitators as these will always be unique to the individual.

Barriers to healthy eating behaviours:


  • Belief that a weight loss intervention will not be effective
  • Lack of confidence about being able to stick to a weight loss intervention
  • Belief that eating healthy food is not a masculine/bloke thing to do
  • Perception that there is a lack of variety with healthy foods

Fast food icon

Environmental and resourcing barriers:

  • Limited access to unhealthy foods
  • Lack of time to cook/prepare healthy foods because of busy lifestyle
  • High cost of healthy foods compared to unhealthy foods
  • Lack of choice of healthy foods in workplace or residential area

Healthy food icon

Lack of knowledge and skills:

  • Lack of knowledge about healthy foods
  • Not knowing how to cook healthy foods

Motivational icon


  • Lack of self-control/will power around food
  • Consoling oneself through eating
  • Lack of motivation to cook healthy foods
  • Dislike taste of healthy foods


  • Family/friends being discouraging or not supportive
  • Cultural celebrations involving food

Common facilitators to healthy eating

It is also useful to consider facilitators which can help with weight management:

  • Personal benefits: providing motivation such as discussing improvement in health outcomes – energy, body image, self-confidence, quality of life, and pride
  • Experiencing health and psychological benefits from initial weight loss efforts
  • Family – the influence of parents, spouse and other family members
  • Meal replacement products
  • Education material – supporting materials provided during weight loss
  • Support from a clinician
  • Greater self efficacy (confidence) in being able to follow a weight management plan and in being able to resist eating when food is available
  • Striving to achieve goals

Icons of clinician. person standing underneath star, and family

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EduWeight: Weight Management for Adult Patients with Chronic Disease

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