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Am J Mens Health. 2017 Mar;11(2):330-343. doi: 10.1177/1557988316680936. Epub 2016 Dec 5.

Motivators and Barriers to Engaging in Healthy Eating and Physical Activity.

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1 University of Newcastle, Callaghan, New South Wales, Australia.


Many Australian young men (18-25 years) fail to meet recommendations in national dietary or physical activity (PA) guidelines. However, there is a lack of understanding of their perspectives on PA and diet to inform intervention design. This study examined young men's motivators and barriers to healthy eating and PA, along with differences by demographic and behavioral factors. A cross-sectional online survey was completed by 282 men aged 18 to 25 years in Australia. Results identified the most common motivators for healthy eating included improving health (63.5%), body image (52.3%), and increasing energy (32.1%). Motivators for PA included improving body image (44.6%), fitness (44.2%), and health (41.0%). Common barriers to healthy eating were access to unhealthy foods (61.1%), time to cook/prepare healthy foods (55.0%), and motivation to cook healthy foods (50.7%). Barriers for PA included motivation (66.3%), time (57.8%), and cost of equipment/facilities (33.3%). Significant differences ( p < .01) in motivators to healthy eating and/or PA were identified for BMI category, marital status, PA level, alcohol intake, and stress levels. Significant differences were identified for barriers to healthy eating and/or PA by BMI, PA level, stress, and fruit and vegetable intake, assessed using Pearson's chi-square test. Findings suggest that promotion of benefits related to health, appearance/body image, increased energy and fitness, and addressing key barriers including motivation, time, financial restraints, and accessibility of unhealthy foods, could engage young men in improving lifestyle behaviors. Differences by demographic and behavioral factors suggest development of tailored programs to address diversity among young men may be required.


exercise; nutrition; public health; young men

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