A Table Of Key Barriers To Dietary Change

This is a table to show key barriers to dietary change for different age groups. Highlighting which factors are easiest to change and how this change can be brought about.

Age Group

Key Barriers

Easy to Change


  • Parents/ carers choose what food is provided

  • Everything is new and some children are resistant to experimenting

Educating parents on the right nutrition for young children. topics ranging from reasons to avoid squash and soft drinks, to importance of low sugar and low processed food diet, to correct portion size. kids version of the ‘Eatwell plate’

School Age and Adolescent

  • Peer pressure

  • Influenced by media e.g. fad diets

  • Influenced by packaging

  • Rebel against parental advice

  • Little choice/ variety at home

  • Lack of cooking skills and nutritional knowledge

Addressing the availability of knowledge at school where children this age spend most of their time. This could include;

  • nutritional education for children in school

  • cooking and budgeting lessons

  • healthy vending machines and school meals and snacks

  • growing own food


  • Difficult to change habits

  • Time constraints

  • Financial constraints

  • Understanding new information and how it is relevant

  • Lack of cooking skills and nutritional knowledge

The easiest barrier to change is to promote nutritional information. Overcome the time barrier by condensing useful information into easy to manage and understand parts. Demonstrate how this information can be applied practically explaining why it is important. This can be in the form of leaflets, adverts, videos all in short ‘bite-sized’ snippets. Running life courses e.g. locally my town has a community association that provides free 6 week courses educating on issues such as healthy cooking and be your own life coach.


  • Decreased interest in food as well as nutrition

  • Feelings of it being too late to change

  • Hard to prepare fresh foods or have access (mobility and financially) to fresh meals

Informing elderly people on how to make small changes that will make a difference to their health. This can be done through community provided cooking sessions, check up clinics for diabetes, weight loss, heart disease etc…Many people think they are already healthy but if the new knowledge given explains why it is better than what they are currently doing people may be more likely to make changes.

In general the easiest thing to change is people’s knowledge. Educating individuals allows them to take responsibility for their own choices and this can be done through events in school and the wider communities, advertisements on billboards and television as well as leaflets. However, all of the barriers mentioned above can also be used against putting that new knowledge into practice. This is why it is so important that government policies are in place to support change, to create environments – such as affordable transport and access to shops and to influence marketing of products. If healthy foods were packaged and advertised in the same way as confectionery and processed foods people would find them more interesting and appetising, children and young people would be drawn in by the packaging and more people would have better awareness on how to use them.

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