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Influences on food choices of urban Chinese teenagers

Ann Veeck (Professor, based at Department of Marketing, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA)
Fang Grace Yu (Department of Marketing, Brock University, St. Catharines, Canada)
Hongyan Yu (Department of Marketing, Sun Yat-Sen University, Guangzhou, China)
Gregory Veeck (Department of Geography, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA)
James W. Gentry (Department of Marketing, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, Nebraska, USA)

Young Consumers

ISSN: 1747-3616

Article publication date: 11 November 2014




This study aims to examine the major influences of food choices of Chinese teenagers within a dynamic food marketing environment.


The paper reports findings from semi-structured interviews with high school students which examine teenagers’ guidelines for selecting food, along with their actual eating behavior.


The results reflect on how four major influences – personal, family, peer and retailer – may intersect to affect the eating behaviors of Chinese adolescents, as they navigate an intense education schedule during a time of rapidly changing cultural values. Different norms of food choice – nutrition, food safety, taste, body image, price, convenience, sharing, friendship and fun – are evoked according to the social context and concurrent activities of the teenagers.

Social implications

The findings offer tentative insights related to the potential for promoting healthier eating habits for adolescents in urban areas of China.


The study demonstrates how, within this rapidly changing food environment, food retailers are creating alliances with teenagers to meet needs of convenience, speed, taste and social interaction.



The authors gratefully acknowledge the support provided by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No.71172163) and the Lucia Harrison Endowment Fund of the Department of Geography of Western Michigan University.


Veeck, A., Grace Yu, F., Yu, H., Veeck, G. and W. Gentry, J. (2014), "Influences on food choices of urban Chinese teenagers", Young Consumers, Vol. 15 No. 4, pp. 296-311.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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