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The barriers and enablers of healthy eating among young adults: a missing piece of the obesity puzzle: A scoping review

20 Oct 2016


Young adults in Western countries are gaining weight faster than their parents and are more likely to gain weight than any other age cohort. Despite this, investigation into the complex young adults' food choice motives, which enable and prevent healthy eating, has not been widely investigated. A scoping review was conducted involving an extensive literature search of four major electronic databases: Medline, Embase, PsychInfo and CINAHL. Data were collected from 34 articles: study descriptions numerically analysed and key findings thematically analysed. The key barriers found included: male apathy towards diet; unhealthy diet of friends and family; expected consumption of unhealthy foods in certain situations; relative low cost of unhealthy foods; lack of time to plan, shop, prepare and cook healthy foods; lack of facilities to prepare, cook and store healthy foods; widespread presence of unhealthy foods; lack of knowledge and skills to plan, shop, prepare and cook healthy foods; lack of motivation to eat healthily (including risk-taking behaviour). The key enablers found included: female interest in a healthy diet; healthy diet of friends and family; support/encouragement of friends and family to eat healthy; desire for improved health; desire for weight management; desire for improved self-esteem; desire for attractiveness to potential partners and others; possessing autonomous motivation to eat healthy and existence and use of self-regulatory skills. This research provides evidence that can be used to tailor interventions for healthy eating and overweight and obesity in this population. However, government intervention in addressing food access, affordability, marketing and taxation remains essential to any significant change.

Click here to view the full article which appeared in Obesity Reviews