Barriers to Healthy Behaviors

Review pages 4 – 14 of the School District Wellness Policies: Evaluating Progress and Potential for Improving Childrens Health Three Years after the Federal Mandate report.  Reflecting on this report and given that: ENERGY INTAKE – ENERGY EXPENDITURE = ENERGY BALANCE, where “energy intake” refers to what we eat and “energy expenditure” is defined by how much we exercise; then “energy balance” is defined as the relationship between intake and expenditure.

Write a paper (2 pages) describing challenges and opportunities teachers, health educators, health professionals, and parents in this country face in overcoming the epidemic of childhood obesity.


The following items in particular will be assessed:

  1. Describe several of the reasons that childhood obesity is on the rise.
  2. Identify at least 3 barriers to improving children’s nutrition and physical acitvity.
  3. What are the trends regarding effectiveness of school-based wellness policies?
  4. What opportunities exist to improve school-based wellness policies?

Your paper will be graded on the following factors:

  • Original work—the paper is your own work, not copied or paraphrased from any other sources.
  • References – information provided in your must be based on your literature search and not merely an opinion. In-text citations and a complete reference list are required. Scholarly and professional sources are required. Wikipedia is not an acceptable source.
  • Precision—follows all instructions and answer each part of the assignment.
  • Breadth—shows broad knowledge of the topic (multiple perspectives and references, multiple issues/factors considered, as appropriate).
  • Depth—provides detail to show more critical thought specific to the assignment.
  • Clarity—clear explanation and discussion in addressing the assignment.
  • Critical thinking—thinking that goes beyond simple description, repetition, or quotation, and comes to a relevant conclusion.
  • Application—the extent to which you apply the information to a real-life situation related to the assignment.
  • Length—meets page requirements as stated in the assignment.


Required 30-minute Tutorial for developing good goals and SMART objectives:

CDC (2011) Writing Good Goals and SMART Objectives – Tutorials. Retrieved from

Required Resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2008). Developing strategies for program success. Retrieved July 1, 2012 from

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2009). Writing SMART objectives [Evaluation Briefs No. 3]. Retrieved July 1, 2012 from

Fitzgerald, N. & Spaccarotella, K. (2009 February). Barriers to a healthy lifestyle: From individuals to public policy—an ecological perspective. Journal of Extension, 47(1), 1-9. Retrieved July 1, 2012 from

Glasgow, R.E. (2008). Perceived barriers to self-management and preventive behaviors. Health Behavior Constructs: Theory, Measurement & Research. Rockville, MD: Cancer Control and Population Sciences, National Cancer Institute. Retrieved July 1, 2012 from

National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Division of Adolescent and School Health (2011). Workplan template. Program management. [Tools and resources]. Retrieved July 1, 2012 from

Chriqui JF, Schneider L, Chaloupka FJ, Gourdet C, Bruursema A, Ide K & Pugach O. (2010). School District Wellness Policies: Evaluating Progress and Potential for Improving Childrens Health Three Years after the Federal Mandate. Health Policy Center, Institute for Health Research and Policy, University of Illinois at Chicago. Retrieved July 1, 2012 from

Optional readings:

Committee on Health and Behavior: Research, Practice, and Policy, Board on Neuroscience and Behavioral Health (2001). Organizations, communities, and society: Models and interventions. Health and behavior: The interplay between the biological, behavioral, and societal influences (pp. 241-264). Washington, DC: National Academy Press. Retrieved from



Organizational level interventions focus on supporting behavior change through adoption of policies, procedures, and priorities that promote and facilitate healthy behaviors of the organization’s members (i.e. employees, students, clients).  Interventions may include reduction of environmental risk factors and facilitating linkages to other organizations. An example is creating smoke-free zones.

Community level interventions can encourage unity and offer resources that may not be available otherwise.  This level of intervention can help “reduce the social, structural, and environmental stressors” (Committee on Health Behavior, 2001, p. 13) that break down the health and well-being of community members.  It is important, however, that such intervention must involve community in the process of identifying needs, strengths, and resources; planning and developing of funding bases; implementing community interventions; and must encourage community participation and ownership during evaluation of community-level interventions.

Public policy or society level interventions can include approaches that affect socioeconomic status since evidence has shown that low income population are more likely to suffer poor health and diseases.  Public policy level interventions are designed to affect social, economic, political, and cultural factors that are influencing health beyond the control of an individual.  An example of public policy level intervention would be the seatbelt and motorcycle helmet laws.

The optional readings, Committee on Health and Behavior (2001), have more information on individual and family health-related interventions (pages 241-264).

Identifying Barriers and Challenges to Healthy Behaviors

Promoting healthy behaviors is not easy.  In fact, it is challenging and involves many barriers.  Recognizing that there are existing or foreseeable barriers and challenges to behavior change interventions will allow opportunity for planning on how to effectively overcome challenges and reduce or eliminate barriers to healthy behaviors.  These barriers can extend across various levels in individual and environmental factors influencing health behaviors.

Examples of barriers to healthy eating may include taste preference, lack of nutritional knowledge, inadequate cooking skills, lack of time to prepare healthy foods, limited access to grocery stores or fresh fruit and vegetables, etc.

Examples of barriers to participation in physical activity may include personal physical limitation, lack of safe place to play, lack of social support, self-perception of already being physically active, lack of motivation, etc.

Fitzgerald and Spaccarotella (2009) offers more examples of barriers and challenges in promoting healthy eating and physical activity in intrapersonal, interpersonal, community/institution, and public policy/macro levels.

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