Combating deceptive advertisements and labeling on food products: An exploratory study on the perceptions of teachers

Wai Ling Theresa LAI-YEUNG

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlespeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


People are becoming more health conscious nowadays, but most of them are not able to adopt a lifestyle with adequate physical exercise and a healthier eating pattern. Many attempt to compensate by taking 'health foods'. Despite the recent economic recession, the functional food market is expanding rapidly in Asian countries. Recent statistics indicate a huge increase in weight loss and functional food product advertising expenditure in Hong Kong and other Asian countries. In a large scale survey conducted by the Hong Kong Consumer Council on advertisements, it was found that 85% of the medicines, health food and therapies sampled contain questionable claims and misleading messages, which was the second most problematic category of the survey. In addition, young people do not understand much about modern food processing, in particular with regard to low energy and functional foods, and they know very little about modern food marketing strategies. The situation is potentially detrimental to consumer welfare, especially to the younger generation. This study was conducted to reflect critically on implications of the issue on the health and well-being of young people in Hong Kong. Attempts are made to explore directions for designing relevant and effective education programmes to empower young people's abilities in understanding food advertising strategies and making informed decisions on food choice. This paper begins with a critical review of the current situation with regard to Hong Kong. Then, the results of an interview survey and a questionnaire survey on pre-service and in-service teachers' perception towards misleading food advertising and labelling are reported. The situations at schools are defined and problems faced by teachers in providing relevant consumer education programmes to students are identified. Finally, some prospective foci for further investigation of this important issue, with a view to developing students' critical skills in evaluating claims offered in food advertisements, will be considered. Copyright © 2004 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)117-126
JournalInternational Journal of Consumer Studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2004


Lai, T. Y. W.-L. (2004). Combating deceptive advertisements and labelling on food products: An exploratory study on the perceptions of teachers. International Journal of Consumer Studies, 28(2), 117-126. 10.1111/j.1470-6431.2003.00355.x


  • Advertising persuasion
  • Consumer education
  • Deceptive advertising
  • Food labelling
  • Functional food advertisements
  • Health foods
  • Questionable claims


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