What is healthy eating? A qualitative exploration

Rebecca Mete, Alison Shield, Kristen Murray, Rachel Bacon, Jane Kellett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)


OBJECTIVE: The present study aimed to explore how healthy food choices are translated into everyday life by exploring definitions of healthy food choices, perceptions of own food choice, and healthy food choice drivers (facilitators) and barriers.

DESIGN: An exploratory qualitative study design was employed using semi-structured face-to-face interviews. Convenience sampling was used to recruit participants. Interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed verbatim and cross-checked for consistency. Thematic analysis was used to identify patterns emerging from the data.

SETTING: Canberra, Australia, October 2015-March 2016.

PARTICIPANTS: A total of twenty-three participants aged 25-60 years were interviewed. The mean age was 38 years and the mean BMI was 29·1 kg/m2. All male participants (n 4) were within the healthy weight range compared with 58 % of female participants, with 26 % being overweight and 16 % being obese.

RESULTS: (i) Healthy food choices are important but are not a daily priority; (ii) healthy eating information is known but can be difficult to apply into everyday life; (iii) popular diets are used in attempts to improve healthy eating; and (iv) social media inspires and connects people with healthy eating.

CONCLUSIONS: Social media facilitates healthy food choices by providing access to healthy eating information. In addition to Facebook and Instagram, healthy eating blogs were highlighted as a source of nutrition information. Research should consider exploring the use of healthy eating blogs and whether these blogs can be used as a tool by dietitians to communicate procedural healthy eating information more effectively in the future.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2408-2418
Number of pages11
JournalPublic Health Nutrition
Issue number13
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2019


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