New findings show ‘lack of motivation’ and ‘feeling too tired’ stops Brits from being healthier

  • World Cancer Research Fund is highlighting some of the main reasons that prevent UK adults from making healthy changes to their diet and physical activity levels.
  • The findings coincide with the charity’s launch of an 8-week healthy living plan for the general public.

17 May 2023

Lacking motivation (38%) and feeling too tired (35%) are the top reasons preventing UK adults from making changes to their diet and being more physically active, according to a new YouGov poll commissioned by World Cancer Research Fund. To counter this and support people to make changes to their diet and become more active, the charity has launched an 8-week online healthy living plan, Activ8.

When asked what was preventing them from eating more healthily and being more physically active, nearly half of younger people (25-34-year-olds) (48%) answered ‘feeling too tired’, compared to less than a quarter of 55-year-olds and over (23%) saying this was the reason that stopped them getting healthier.

‘Feeling too tired’ also saw a significant difference among the different sexes, with 40% of women citing this as a reason not to make healthy changes to their diet and activity levels, compared to 29% of men.

A lack of confidence ranked highest among 18-24-year-olds (26%) as a barrier to making healthy changes, compared to less than 1 in 10 for the over 55s (9%).

WCRF’s Activ8 challenge

Activ8 will be running all year round, and people can join at any time. It aims to support people to take on a different challenge each week. From making healthier food and drink choices to being more active in different ways, the programme is designed to be as easy and inspiring as possible while still fitting into people’s busy schedules. Activ8 helps people to adopt healthy habits to help lower their risk of cancer.

World Cancer Research Fund provides the most comprehensive scientific evidence available on how diet, weight and physical activity affect our risk of cancer. It has strong evidence that having a balanced diet rich in vegetables, fruit, wholegrains such as brown rice and wholemeal bread, and pulses like beans and lentils, can reduce the risk of several different cancers.

Its evidence also shows that being physically active – whether that’s brisk walking, running, dancing, gardening or even doing household chores, can help reduce the risk of certain cancers. Being physically active can also help people maintain a healthy weight, which, after not smoking, is the most important way someone can lower their risk of at least 12 different types of cancer.

Matt Lambert, Health Information and Promotion Manager at World Cancer Research Fund, said:

Living in a healthier way, whether that’s cooking from scratch more often, or getting more active can be easier said than done, especially when tiredness and motivation play such an important role. It can also be challenging knowing where to start, yet alone motivating ourselves to make changes. That’s why, with the help of Activ8, we want to support and empower people on their journey towards being healthier.


All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size for the 2023 results was 2,086 adults.

The surveys were carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).

For more information and media enquiries contact: Marianne Kellner, PR & Media Officer, World Cancer Research Fund at 07717131883

Notes to editors

Activ8 is backed by science and brings World Cancer Research Fund’s Cancer Prevention Recommendations to life – and shows how they can be incorporated into people’s daily lives. Those who take part in Activ8 will receive regular emails over the 8 weeks to help make healthy eating and getting more active a part of their daily routine. It provides participants with the tools they need to make healthy changes, from expert nutrition and physical activity tips and advice, delicious weekly recipes, inspiring videos, and resources to help people live in a healthier way.

World Cancer Research Fund’s Activ8 plan registration opened on 11 April 2023.

For more information and to sign up to the Activ8 Plan, click here.

About World Cancer Research Fund

World Cancer Research Fund examines how diet, nutrition, body weight and physical activity affect your risk of developing and surviving cancer. As part of an international network of charities, we have been funding life-saving research, influencing global public health policy, and educating the public since 1982. While society continues searching for a cure, our prevention and survival work is helping people live longer, happier, healthier lives – free from the devastating effects of cancer. and Twitter, Facebook, Instagram & LinkedIn.

Preventing cancer. Saving lives