Many adults struggle to implement healthy lifestyle choices — and a new survey from YouGov and the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) found that fatigue and a lack of motivation are the biggest barriers to a healthy lifestyle.
On Wednesday, an online survey conducted by YouGov on behalf of WCRF asked 2,086 U.K. adults what prevented them from implementing healthy lifestyle choices, such as a healthier diet and increased physical activity. Respondents could select multiple reasons contributing to their lifestyle.
Overall, 38% of respondents said they lack the motivation to make healthy changes and 35% said they feel "too tired."
Respondents also cited the cost of food (30%), a lack of time (26%), work/life balance (25%), the cost of exercising (25%), a lack of confidence (16%), and "not knowing where to start" (12%) as factors preventing them from adopting a healthy lifestyle. Only 24% of respondents said nothing prevented them from making healthy choices.
Among 25- to 34-year-old respondents, 48% said they felt "too tired" to implement healthy changes, compared to just 23% of respondents aged 55 and over who cited the same reason.
Meanwhile, 40% of women cited exhaustion as a reason preventing them from making healthy changes to their diet and exercise regimen, compared to just 29% of men.
A lack of confidence was most prevalent among 18- to 24-year-olds, with 26% citing it as a barrier to implementing healthy changes. Meanwhile, 9% of respondents aged 55 and over cited a lack of confidence as a barrier.
According to WCRF and Cancer Research UK, an estimated 40% of all cancer cases could be avoided if more people lived healthier lives. Taking steps like eating a healthier diet, being more active, maintaining a healthy weight, avoiding sunburn, and not smoking would be beneficial.
In particular, research suggests that a balanced diet rich in vegetables, fruit, whole grains, and pulses like beans and lentils, can lower individuals' risk of several different cancers. In addition, research has found that physical activity, such as brisk walking, running, dancing, or even doing household chores, can help lower the risk of certain cancers.
"People have busy schedules, and we know that for many, the last thing they might feel like doing when they are tired or lacking in motivation, is to start cooking from scratch or going to the gym," said Matt Lambert, WCRF's health information and promotion manager. However, Lambert noted that implementing small, achievable changes can still make a difference.
To help individuals make healthy lifestyle changes, WCRF is launching an eight-week healthy living plan called Activ8. According to WCRF, the program is designed to encourage people to participate in a new challenge each week.
"From making healthier food and drink choices to being more active in different ways, the programme is designed to be as easy and inspiring as possible while still fitting into people's busy schedules," WCRF said. "Activ8 helps people to adopt healthy habits to help lower their risk of cancer."
"Living in a healthier way, whether that's cooking from scratch more often, or getting more active can be easier said than done, especially when tiredness and motivation play such an important role. It can also be challenging knowing where to start, yet alone motivating ourselves to make changes. That's why, with the help of Activ8, we want to support and empower people on their journey towards being healthier," Lambert said. (Campbell, The Guardian, 5/16; Masih, Washington Post, 5/17; WCRF press release, 5/17)
Create your free account to access 2 resources each month, including the latest research and webinars.
You have 2 free members-only resources remaining this month remaining this month.
Never miss out on the latest innovative health care content tailored to you.