Perceived barriers towards healthy eating and their association with fruit and vegetable consumption

J Public Health (Oxf). 2017 Jun 1;39(2):330-338. doi: 10.1093/pubmed/fdw038.


Background: Improving dietary intakes is a key public health target. Perceived barriers to healthy eating (PBHE) are an important component of the Health Belief Model which aims to understand why individuals do not adopt preventive health measures. This study investigates the relationship between PBHE and reported fruit and vegetable (F&V) consumption.

Methods: Data from the Scottish Health Survey 2008-11 (n = 8319) for PBHE and self-reported F&V consumption were used in Probit regression models to test the association between meeting the 400 g per day F&V recommendation and PBHE.

Results: Regression models show women who reported a lack of cooking skills were 10.4% less likely to meet the F&V recommendations (P = 0.001). Not liking the taste of healthy foods or finding them too boring (10.2%, P = 0.022), preparation time (5.6%, P = 0.020) or willpower (3.0%, P = 0.021) were also significant. For men, reporting not liking the taste of healthy foods or finding them too boring (6.8%, P = 0.02) was the only significant result. Price, a commonly reported PBHE, was not significantly associated with F&V consumption.

Conclusions: Not all commonly reported perceived barriers to healthy eating are significantly associated with meeting the recommended F&V intake.

Keywords: fruit and vegetables; healthy diet; hedonics; perceived barriers; willpower.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Attitude to Health
  • Diet, Healthy / psychology*
  • Diet, Healthy / statistics & numerical data
  • Feeding Behavior / psychology*
  • Female
  • Fruit*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Recommended Dietary Allowances
  • Scotland
  • Sex Factors
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Vegetables*
  • Young Adult