Report: High Cost and Lack of Support are Key Barriers to More Healthy and Sustainable Living

New research across 25 countries reveals significant opportunities for business and government to enable sustainable living for the benefit of both people and the planet

Just-released global opinion research shows that many people are very interested in leading healthy and sustainable lives, but that there is a broad gap between intent and action. People say they need business and government to help, not least by providing products and services that make healthy and sustainable living easy and affordable.

The Healthy & Sustainable Living study was designed and launched with a range of partners including GlobeScan, IKEA, P&G, PepsiCo, VF Corporation, Visa, Worldwide Brewing Alliance and WWF International to help companies better understand the barriers and enablers of living in a way that is good for people and the planet.

The study surveyed 25,000 people across 25 countries to explore current understanding, concerns, expectations, and opportunities to support healthier and more sustainable lifestyles.

Explore global webinars on the findings

Study Findings

Results of the study show that there is a gap between people’s intention to live in healthy and sustainable ways and their current behavior. While 54 percent of people across 25 countries say that living in a way that is good for themselves, others, and the environment is a “large” or “major” priority for them, only 37 percent say they “mostly” live this way now.

Young people (aged 18–24) display a larger gap between intended and current lifestyle than older respondents, while also feeling more guilty about their negative environmental impact, suggesting a need (and opportunity) to enable healthy and sustainable living for this group.

Barriers to Sustainable Living

The study finds that one main barrier preventing people from achieving a more sustainable lifestyle is cost. Respondents aged 18–24 are most likely to say this. Other cited obstacles include lack of support from government and companies, knowledge deficits, and a preference for existing ways of life.

The study confirms that people are increasingly worried about the environment, with growing majorities across the 25 countries saying a range of issues, including environmental and air pollution, climate change, shortages of fresh water, and biodiversity loss, each pose a “very serious” problem. Young people are feeling the most anxiety about negative environmental impacts.

Eric Whan, Director at GlobeScan said: “Over decades of consulting citizens worldwide, we have never felt a moment of more urgency and opportunity for brands to connect with their customers on the topic of healthy and sustainable living. We think the co-benefits are unprecedented.”

Lena Pripp-Kovac, Head of Sustainability at Inter IKEA Group said: “We want to use the insights from this and other studies to enable the many people to live more sustainable lives, and at the same time contribute to societal change through innovations and new collaborations. Our ambition is to make sustainable living affordable, attractive and accessible for the many people with thin wallets.”

“This study proves consumers want to embrace brands that support an eco-conscious lifestyle,” stated Virginie Helias, P&G, Chief Sustainability Officer.  “It is our job at P&G to create products and services that make sustainable living seamless and irresistible, while continuing to offer the value and performance people expect from our brands.”

Emma de Szoeke, Senior Vice President, Insights & Analytics at PepsiCo said: Consumer interest and action in a sustainable lifestyle is essential in addressing global challenges like climate change and plastics waste. From continuing to broaden our portfolio with more nutritious food and beverage options, and building more purposeful brands that authentically connect with our consumers, to setting ambitious sustainability goals across areas such as agriculture, water, packaging and climate, PepsiCo is committed to meeting our responsibility to our planet and communities – not only because our consumers demand it, but because it is the right thing to do.”

“Consumers around the world increasingly are seeking healthy and sustainable lifestyles for themselves and their families but face certain barriers,” said Douglas Sabo, Visa’s Global Head of Corporate Responsibility & Sustainability. “Brands like Visa are committed to helping take friction out of achieving that goal and to making sustainable living more attractive, rewarding and attainable.”

Pablo Jimenez, Global Vice President, Reputation and Communications at AB InBev said: “Brewers are an integral part of communities, so our initiatives go far beyond our brewery gates to help both consumers and communities live sustainably.  At AB InBev, we use the reach of our brands to inspire action among consumers and stakeholders and use new technologies to support sustainable choices – from promoting renewable electricity to providing access to safe clean water. Moreover, as part of our commitment to help reduce the harmful consumption of alcohol, we are increasing the availability of no and low-alcohol beers around the world to provide consumers with alternative choices.”

Cristianne Close, Markets Lead at WWF said: “How we farm, feed and fuel ourselves is pushing nature to the brink and threatening our future prosperity. Consumers want to make positive changes in their lives but they need help from businesses and governments. This research shows there’s a huge opportunity to shift markets and economies toward supporting a better future for people and nature.”

For more information please contact:


This research program builds on 20 years of GlobeScan’s public opinion research in the areas of sustainability, branding, and reputation, and is designed to help better understand the diverse mindsets of consumers that shape their barriers to (or serve enablers of) more healthy and sustainable living.

Survey sampling and data collection was achieved using best-in-class online consumer panels to survey approximately 1,000 adults in each of the 25 countries. Sampling was optimized to represent consumers per the latest census data for those age 18 years and up.

Data collection took place in April and May 2019.

Participating countries included: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, Nigeria, Philippines, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, the UK, and the USA.

Key Findings

Finding One:  People want to live healthy and sustainable lives, but they need help to do so

Most people surveyed say they want to live in a way that is good for themselves, good for other people, and good for the environment—but fewer say they actually do so, suggesting they need help to reduce the gap.

  • 54% say that healthy and sustainable living is a large or major priority for them
  • 37% say they mostly live this way now

Young consumers present an opportunity for companies to make a difference:

  • 54% of those aged 18–24 say that healthy and sustainable living is a large or major priority for them
  • 32% of those aged 18–24 say they mostly live this way now
  • 56% of those aged 18–24 say they feel guilty about their negative effect on the environment

Finding Two: High cost and lack of government and business support are key barriers that prevent people from becoming healthier and living more sustainably

Results show that the five most important factors preventing people from becoming healthier and living more sustainably are the cost of healthy and sustainable options, not enough support from government, not enough support from business, a lack of knowledge, and not wanting to change one’s current lifestyle.

  • Just under half of people (49%) across 25 countries say that cost is among the main factors preventing them from becoming healthier and living more sustainably. 53% of those aged 18–24 say that affordability is a key barrier to being healthier and more sustainable
  • 47% say there is not enough support from government to help them become healthier and live more sustainably
  • 31% say a lack of business support is among the main factors preventing them from becoming healthier and living more sustainably
  • 27% say that lack of knowledge is an important barrier to being healthier and more sustainable
  • 34% of those aged 18–24 say that lack of knowledge is a barrier to being healthier and more sustainable
  • 25% say that they like the way they are living now, which in itself is a barrier to sustainable change

Finding Three: Concern about environmental issues is rising across the world

Concern about a range of environmental issues are increasing across the world, including environmental pollution, climate change, the depletion of natural resources, shortages of fresh water, and air pollution.

  • People are highly concerned about single-use plastic, with six in ten saying it is a “very serious” issue.
  • Majorities of people across the 25 countries say a range of environmental issues pose a “very serious” problem, including:
    • Environmental pollution (66%)
    • Climate change (62%)
    • Air pollution (60%)
    • Shortages of fresh water (58%)
    • Biodiversity loss (56%)
  • Young people are feeling the most anxiety when it comes to the environment
    • 71% of those aged 18─24 say that environmental problems and pollution are a “very serious” issue, compared to 66% overall
    • 66% of those aged 18–24 say that climate change is a “very serious” issue, compared to 62% overall

Country-by-Country Results

The following section examines the country-by-country results.

currently living hsl


priority living hsl


seriousness of enviro issues


seriousness of single-use plastic


seriousness of climate change



On September 24 we hosted an in-person and livestreamed event at the AB InBev offices in NYC to explore findings from the Healthy & Sustainable Living study.

Chris Coulter, GlobeScan CEO, presented findings from the global survey that explores current understanding, concerns, expectations and opportunities to support healthier and more sustainable lifestyles.

This was followed by a panel discussion with the following senior executives:

  • Carl Henrik Josephson, Global Climate Communication Lead, Inter IKEA Group
  • Douglas Sabo, VP, Head of Corporate Responsibility & Sustainability, Visa
  • Emma de Szoeke, SVP Insights & Analytics, PepsiCo
  • Kavita Prakash-Mani, WWF Global Conservation Director, WWF International
  • Pablo Jimenez, VP Reputation & Communications, AB InBev

Download Presentation Slides

Watch the full recording: