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Fam Pract. 2008 Dec;25 Suppl 1:i50-5. doi: 10.1093/fampra/cmn063. Epub 2008 Sep 30.

Determinants of healthy eating: motivation, abilities and environmental opportunities.

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EMGO Institute, VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.



In order to promote healthful nutrition, insight is needed in the behavioural determinants of nutrition behaviours. Most research on behavioural determinants has been restricted to individual-level motivational factors. However, health behaviour is influenced by individual motivation and abilities, as well as environmental opportunities.


To provide an overview of motivation, ability and opportunity-related potential determinants of nutrition behaviours and of the evidence for associations of potential environmental determinants with nutrition behaviour.


A narrative review informed by a series of six systematic reviews including more than 400 original studies and recent original studies on associations of environmental factors with nutrition behaviours.


Although the number of studies on potential environmental determinants of nutrition as well as physical activity behaviour has increased steeply over the last decades, these include only few well-designed studies with validated measures. Preliminary evidence from the available systematic reviews indicates that social support and modelling, availability and accessibility of healthy and less healthy foods as well as socio-economic status are important for nutrition behaviours; schools and worksites offer good settings for improving healthful nutrition opportunities.


Although the evidence to date is inconclusive due to lack of well-designed studies, specific social-cultural, physical and economical environmental factors appear of importance for healthful nutrition.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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