Hedonists more likely to believe food industry nutrition and marketing claims: APAC study

By Gary Scattergood contact

- Last updated on GMT

Respondents who held hedonist values and who trusted industry sources of nutrition information were more likely to use convenience outlets. ©iStock
Respondents who held hedonist values and who trusted industry sources of nutrition information were more likely to use convenience outlets. ©iStock

Related tags: Nutrition

People in Asia-Pacific with ‘hedonistic values’ are more likely to place their trust in food industry sources of nutrition information and make greater use of fast food and convenience outlets.

On the flip-side, less use of convenience food outlets and greater trust in health sources of nutrition information was associated with traditional community-oriented values.

These were the findings of an online cross-sectional survey which examined the relationships between the demographic characteristics, personal values, trust in sources of nutrition information and the use of convenience food outlets among middle-class household food providers in the Asia-Pacific region.

The survey was administered to 3945 household food providers in Melbourne, Singapore, Shanghai, Vietnam and Indonesia.

Researchers said in spite of Asia being home to the fastest-growing middle class population worldwide, and the marketing budgets of food firms in the region booming, very little research had been undertaken on how this affected consumption of convenience foods and attitudes towards industry nutrition advice, especially in Vietnam, Indonesia and China.

“These industry sources offer food and nutrition information which often competes with information provided by health organisations and practitioners, and families and friends, making it difficult for consumers to know which sources to trust,”​ they wrote in the Journal of Health, Population and Nutrition

Analysis of their finding showed that respondents in Shanghai, Vietnam, Indonesia and Singapore relied on convenience food outlets more than Melbournians

“Furthermore, respondents who placed importance on food knowledge and skills and the promotion of healthy food were less likely to use convenience food outlets, as were people who were older and trusted health sources of nutrition information,”​ they added.

“In comparison, respondents who held hedonist values and who trusted industry sources of nutrition information were more likely to use convenience outlets, as were women and those who had children between the ages of 0–5 and 13–18 years.”

However, the authors also found a lack of an association between BMI and convenience outlet use, something they stated “highlights the complexity of the influences on population body weight.

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In terms of the implications for nutrition professionals and the promotion of good dietary habits, the paper argues their findings have significant implications

The fact that “hedonist food providers”​ were more likely to trust industry sources of nutrition information suggests that they may be “more vulnerable”​ than others to food industry marketing tactics, they wrote.

“Hedonist people tend to be drawn to exciting, innovative advertisements which is a common strategy used by the food industry in order to engage consumers,” ​they added.

“Health authorities should consider use of similar approaches to this group, emphasising fun and sociability associated with healthy foods and beverages. This will require considerable funding and organisation and collaboration with primary industries, small businesses and community groups who are able to provide these products.”

The research concluded that further replication and extension of the study is required so that healthy food promotion strategies can be developed to meet the needs of households in the Asia-Pacific region.


Source: Journal  of Health, Population and Nutrition

DOI:​ 10.1186/s41043-017-0082-4

“Personal values, marketing attitudes and nutrition trust are associated with patronage of convenience food outlets in the Asia-Pacific region: a cross-sectional study”

Authors: Breanna De Jong, et al.

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