Information on the perceived difficulties in trying to eat a healthier diet is important in assisting those in nutrition education devise more effective programmes. The objective of this study was to determine the main perceived barriers that people have in trying to eat a healthy diet in the 15 member states of the European Union (EU). A cross-sectional study in which quota-controlled nationally representative samples of approximately 1000 adults (15 years upwards) from each member state completed a face-to-face interview-assisted questionnaire. The most frequently mentioned perceived barriers to healthy eating concerned time and taste factors. Time-related factors were more important for younger respondents and those with a higher level of education, who appear to regard taste as being compromised by healthy eating. Variation exists both between member states and between demographic groups in the frequency of barriers mentioned. A lack of knowledge about healthy eating was not selected by many as an important barrier. A major obstacle to nutrition education is the fact that 70 % of EU subjects believe their diets are already healthy. It may be that nutrition educators should concentrate on showing consumers how to evaluate their own diet appropriately in terms of fat, fibre, and fruit and vegetables. Food-based guidelines may be useful in this endeavour.
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