Beliefs, Barriers and Facilitators to Physical Activity in Bariatric Surgery Candidates

Juliana Zabatiero, Kylie Hill, Daniel F. Gucciardi, Jeffrey M. Hamdorf, Susan F. Taylor, Martin S. Hagger, Anne Smith*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Bariatric surgery candidates engage in less physical activity (PA) and spend longer periods in sedentary behaviour (SB) when compared to the general adult population. The aim of this study was to explore the beliefs about PA and perceived barriers and facilitators to PA in obese adults scheduled for bariatric surgery. Methods: Nineteen obese adults (15 females), with a mean (SD) age of 41.6 (12.1) years, weight of 119.2 (20.5) kg and body mass index of 41.6 (6.7) kg/m2 participated in a one-on-one in-depth qualitative interview before undergoing bariatric surgery. Data were analysed using inductive thematic analysis. Results: Most participants believed that engaging in regular PA confers important health benefits, however reported insufficient PA levels to obtain those benefits. The perceived barriers to PA reported by participants were both obesity related (e.g. bodily pain, physical limitation and self-presentational concerns) and non-obesity related (e.g. lack of motivation, environment and restricted resources). All participants stated weight loss to be the main perceived facilitator to PA, together with social factors, better time management and access to financial resources. Conclusions: In bariatric surgery candidates, many of the perceived barriers and facilitators to PA are not obesity related and are therefore unlikely to change as a result of bariatric surgery. This may explain why earlier research shows little change in PA or SB following surgery. It is likely that an approach that aims to address the barriers and facilitators identified in this study is needed to change the inactive lifestyle adopted in this population.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1097-1109
Number of pages13
JournalObesity Surgery
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Bariatric surgery
  • Barriers
  • Facilitators
  • Interviews
  • Physical activity
  • Thematic analysis


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