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Barriers and Facilitators to Healthy Lifestyle Changes in Minority Ethnic Populations in the UK: a Narrative Review.

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journal contribution
posted on 2016-12-12, 16:23 authored by Naina Patel, H. B. Ferrer, Freya Tyrer, Paula Wray, A. Farooqi, Melanie J. Davies, Kamlesh Khunti
Minority ethnic populations experience a disproportionate burden of health inequalities compared with the rest of the population, including an increased risk of type 2 diabetes (T2DM). The purpose of this narrative review was to explore knowledge and attitudes around diabetes, physical activity and diet and identify barriers and facilitators to healthy lifestyle changes in minority ethnic populations in the UK. The narrative review focused on three key research topics in relation to barriers and facilitators to healthy lifestyle changes in minority adult ethnic populations: (i) knowledge and attitudes about diabetes risk; (ii) current behaviours and knowledge about physical activity and diet; and (iii) barriers and facilitators to living a healthier lifestyle. Nearly all of the studies that we identified reported on South Asian minority ethnic populations; we found very few studies on other minority ethnic populations. Among South Asian communities, there was generally a good understanding of diabetes and its associated risk factors. However, knowledge about the levels of physical activity required to gain health benefits was relatively poor and eating patterns varied. Barriers to healthy lifestyle changes identified included language barriers, prioritising work over physical activity to provide for the family, cultural barriers with regard to serving and eating traditional food, different perceptions of a healthy body weight and fear of racial harassment or abuse when exercising. Additional barriers for South Asian women included expectations to remain in the home, fear for personal safety, lack of same gender venues and concerns over the acceptability of wearing 'western' exercise clothing. Facilitators included concern that weight gain might compromise family/carer responsibilities, desire to be healthy, T2DM diagnosis and exercise classes held in 'safe' environments such as places of worship. Our findings suggest that South Asian communities are less likely to engage in physical activity than White populations and highlight the need for health promotion strategies to engage people in these communities. There is a gap in knowledge with regard to diabetes, physical activity, diet and barriers to healthy lifestyle changes among other ethnic minority populations in the UK; we recommend further research in this area.


This study was funded by the National Institute for Health Research Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care-East Midlands (NIHR CLAHRC-EM), with support from the Leicester Clinical Trials Unit and the NIHR Leicester-Loughborough Diet, Lifestyle and Physical Activity Biomedical Research Unit, which is a partnership between University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust, Loughborough University and the University of Leicester.



Journal of Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities , 2016

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/Organisation/COLLEGE OF MEDICINE, BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES AND PSYCHOLOGY/School of Medicine/Department of Health Sciences


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Journal of Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities


Springer Verlag (Germany)





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