Adolescents' perceptions of healthy eating and communication about healthy eating

Kara Chan*, Gerard Prendergast, Alice Grønhøj, Tino Bech-Larsen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)
58 Downloads (Pure)


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to explore Chinese adolescents' perceptions of healthy eating, their perceptions of various socializing agents shaping their eating habits, and their opinions about various regulatory measures which might be imposed to encourage healthy eating.

Design/methodology/approach: Four focus group interview sessions were conducted with 22 eighth and ninth grade adolescents (aged 13 to 15) in Hong Kong. F

indings: The participants perceived a balanced diet and regular meal times as the most important attributes of healthy eating. Participants were most likely to eat unhealthy food at parties, during festivals, and when socializing. They reported that mothers and teachers often advise them to eat healthy foods. They felt that banning the sale of soft drinks in schools and at sports centers and/or increasing the price of soft drinks might discourage their consumption, but felt that banning soft drink advertisements and/or making free drinking water more available would be ineffective. 

Research limitations/implications: The interviewees were mostly from low to middle income families. They may not be representative of all adolescents in Hong Kong or elsewhere, thus limiting the generalisabilty of the findings. 

Originality/value: The study serves as a guideline for social services marketing professionals targeting adolescents. Social services marketers might consider influencing adolescents' eating habits through the parents and school teachers. Restricting selling of soft drinks at schools and sports centers and increasing the price of soft drinks should be considered, as these were considered relatively more effective than other measures. Seven testable hypotheses are proposed to guide further research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)474-490
Number of pages17
JournalHealth Education
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 16 Oct 2009

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Education
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

User-Defined Keywords

  • Diet
  • Nutrition
  • Adolescents


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