Limited research has explored teachers’ perceptions of the role that schools can play in supporting staff members’ healthy eating and physical activity. We aimed to identify barriers to healthy eating and physical activity within the school context, and to conclude on potential strategies for supporting staff to pursue these healthier behaviours. A convenience sampling strategy was used to recruit eleven schools from across Victoria to participate in this study, through contacts known to the researchers. The researchers facilitated focus groups involving staff from schools. Focus groups ranged in size from 3 to 12 participants (total 82) and lasted between 40 and 75 min. Thematic analysis was used to identify themes and sub-themes which were identified by staff as being important for healthy eating and physical activity. Schools that were perceived by staff to support healthy eating and physical activity offered opportunities, through initiatives and the physical environment, to support staff in accessing environments and facilities that supported them in being healthy. Further supportive elements were identified as a culture of health behaviours amongst staff members and leadership which supported health behaviours. Workplace stressors were reported to impact many aspects of staff health and wellbeing. Potential actions by schools to better support staff to pursue healthy eating and physical activity were identified from the themes emerging from this study. Alignment between these themes and elements of the World Health Organisation’s healthy workplace framework suggest it will be important for health promotion models to account for these themes.

This article is published and distributed under the terms of the Oxford University Press, Standard Journals Publication Model (