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Open Access Highly Accessed Research

Perceived personal, social and environmental barriers to weight maintenance among young women: A community survey

Sari Andajani-Sutjahjo, Kylie Ball*, Narelle Warren, Victoria Inglis and David Crawford

Author Affiliations

Centre for Physical Activity and Nutrition Research, School of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences, Deakin University, Melbourne, AUSTRALIA

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International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity 2004, 1:15  doi:10.1186/1479-5868-1-15

Published: 5 October 2004



Young women are a group at high risk of weight gain. This study examined a range of perceived personal, social and environmental barriers to physical activity and healthy eating for weight maintenance among young women, and how these varied by socioeconomic status (SES), overweight status and domestic situation.


In October-December 2001, a total of 445 women aged 18–32 years, selected randomly from the Australian electoral roll, completed a mailed self-report survey that included questions on 11 barriers to physical activity and 11 barriers to healthy eating (relating to personal, social and environmental factors). Height, weight and socio-demographic details were also obtained. Statistical analyses were conducted mid-2003.


The most common perceived barriers to physical activity and healthy eating encountered by young women were related to motivation, time and cost. Women with children were particularly likely to report a lack of social support as an important barrier to physical activity, and lack of social support and time as important barriers to healthy eating. Perceived barriers did not differ by SES or overweight status.


Health promotion strategies aimed at preventing weight gain should take into account the specific perceived barriers to physical activity and healthy eating faced by women in this age group, particularly lack of motivation, lack of time, and cost. Strategies targeting perceived lack of time and lack of social support are particularly required for young women with children.

barriers; physical activity; healthy eating; weight maintenance; overweight; obesity; young women