Barriers to physical activity amongst obese adults: a literature review

Toni McIntosh, David Hunter, Susan Royce

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


Background: Rising rates of obesity are a global healthcare challenge, with multiple implications for individuals’ health and health service resources. Physical activity can positively influence weight loss and weight loss maintenance, however levels are low amongst obese individuals.

Aim: To identify the barriers faced by obese individuals which prevent them from engaging with physical activity.

Methodology: A three-step systematic approach was used which began with an initial scoping search, followed by an electronic database search using key words, to identify English language studies conducted between 2010 and 2015, which focussed on barriers to physical activity in the obese population. A reference list search was then carried out to identify any further relevant studies, as well as manual searching of current journal issues. Both quantitative and qualitative studies were included in the review. Papers were assessed for quality using a tool developed by Caldwell et al. (2011) and relevant data extracted.

Results: A total of 17 studies were included in the review, comprised of 11 quantitative, 5 qualitative and one mixed methods study. Several barriers were identified relating to three main themes: physical barriers, psychological barriers and external barriers. Physical barriers included excess weight, poor fitness and health problems. Psychological barriers included weight perception, low mood and lack of motivation. External barriers included lack of time, lack of knowledge and competing demands. Many of the barriers are similar to those reported by the general population, however several were also identified which are unique to obese individuals.

Conclusion: Due to the variety of barriers faced by obese individuals, it is important that nurses treat each person as an individual and identify the barriers perceived by them, in order to provide targeted support to overcome these
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2016
EventRCN International Nursing Research Conference 2016 - Edinburgh International Conference Centre, Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Duration: 6 Apr 20168 Apr 2016


ConferenceRCN International Nursing Research Conference 2016
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


Dive into the research topics of 'Barriers to physical activity amongst obese adults: a literature review'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this