Research Article

How feasible are healthy eating and physical activity for young women?

Kylie Balla1 c1, David Crawforda1 and Narelle Warrena1

a1 School of Health Sciences, Deakin University, 221 Burwood Highway, Burwood, Victoria 3125, Australia


Objective: This study investigated young women's perceptions of the feasibility of physical activity and healthy eating behaviours, and how these vary by socio-economic status, domestic characteristics and weight status.

Design: This population-based study used a mailed questionnaire to investigate perceptions of the feasibility of commonly recommended healthy eating and physical activity behaviours among a sample of young women. The feasibility of 29 physical activity behaviours (e.g. relating to frequency, intensity, duration, domain/setting) and 15 healthy eating behaviours (e.g. relating to location/setting, fruit and vegetable intake, fat/sugar intake) was assessed. Height, weight and sociodemographic details were also obtained.

Setting: Nation-wide community-based survey.

Subjects: A total of 445 women aged 18–32 years selected randomly from the Australian electoral roll.

Results: Most women reported that they either were already engaged in many of the healthy eating behaviours or saw these as highly feasible. Many physical activity behaviours, on the other hand, were perceived as less feasible, particularly among women with children and women who were overweight.

Conclusions: Health promotion messages and strategies aimed at increasing physical activity and healthy eating are unlikely to succeed unless they take into account perceptions that these behaviours are not feasible. For young women, this may involve promoting more time-effective, flexible ways of achieving recommended physical activity. Messages specifically targeted to women with children, and women who are overweight, are required.

(Received June 16 2003)

(Accepted September 03 2003)


c1 *Corresponding author: Email: