Talking points: Should junk food come with health warnings?

Talking points: Should junk food come with health warnings?

Hate it when you can’t talk back? Well, you can with Young Post. Have your say and share with students around Hong Kong

Gladys Lee Hay-man, 14, Holy Trinity College

I think health labels should be added to junk food. Every consumer has the right to know exactly what is in their food and how it might affect their bodies. Only with a clear label will consumers be able to make informed choices when they buy food. What’s more, many young children eat junk food every day. If there were warnings on the wrappers, like those on cigarette packets, children would be able to see how junk food can negatively impact their health, and that might help them make healthier snack choices. On a lighter note, junk food is not all that bad, as long as people eat it  in moderation.  Health warnings would serve as a reminder to make good and balanced food choices.


Natividad Angelica Rubianes, 16, Lai King Catholic Secondary School

While junk food in general is hazardous to the human body, everyone should have the human right to freely decide on what they are eating, healthy or not. Putting warnings on junk food would imply that it’s “sinful” to taste it. Imagine having the statement “Warning: Despite its enticing flavour, it causes chronic diseases” imprinted on the box of chicken nuggets you newly ordered. Any starving customer would just lose their appetite in a split second and leave the front door.

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Choi Nok-him, 12, SKH Tang Shiu Kin Secondary School

No, I don’t think so. Whether they are teens or adults, those who consume junk food do know it is high in calories and can cause people to become obese or to suffer heart diseases. However, people don’t stop eating junk food because they think it is delicious. Just like smokers don’t give up smoking despite the frightening graphic health warnings on cigarette packages. Instead of adding health warnings, educating students, especially young ones, about making healthy food choices is a more effective method of reducing the consumption of junk food. It is easier for children to get rid of bad food habits and develop healthy ones than adults. Children will also bring home to their parents’ information on the harmful effects of junk food on health, which in the long run can convince adults to eat less junk food.


Tommy Cheung, 16, Fung Kai No.1 Secondary School 

I think junk food should come with health warnings. Hongkongers seldom spend time on checking the ingredients label, so adding some health warnings is a great way to alert them about some diseases, such as high blood pressure and diabetes, caused by eating junk food. Therefore adding heath warning labels can improve Hong Kong citizens’  health. 

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Yoonjung Choi, 14, Hong Kong International School

Yes, junk food should come with health warnings. Although some junk food companies will be disappointed with this decision, in some cases, it will even help save many lives. I personally enjoy eating candy bars but if the packaging of the candy bar had a picture of decaying teeth or a diseased heart, I would definitely think twice about eating it. These days, new research suggests that just like warnings on cigarette packaging, if there is a negative message on junk food it can prevent people from eating it.

While junk food in general is hazardous to the human body, everyone should have the human right to freely decide on what they are eating, healthy or not. Putting warnings on junk food would imply that it’s “sinful” to taste it. Imagine having the statement “Warning: Despite its enticing flavour, it causes chronic diseases” imprinted on the box of chicken nuggets you newly ordered. Any starving customer would just lose their appetite in a split second and leave the front door.


Kanak Khanuja, 12, HKMA David Li Kwok Po College

Did you know that drinking a certain amount of soft drinks can cause you to have two types of diabetes and heart disease? No, right? This is one of the many reasons why I believe junk food should have health warning labels. Obesity rates are getting worse and diabetes is now a common disease. Labels can be put on junk food as a warning sign and protect people from the risks of getting those illnesses. Labels can also serve as a reminder to everyone who wants to stay healthy but are blinded by their love for food. Lastly, labels can ensure us to a healthy and happy life! 

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Yim Kwan-lam, 17, Fung Kai No.1 Secondary School

No, I think junk food shouldn’t come with health warnings because some food already have nutrition label. For example, cup noodles and potato chips. But some consumer still ignore the label. So the health warnings is useless. Also, it is difficult to show the health warnings. In McDonald, there are hamburgers, fried chicken. I don’t think the health warnings can show in the fast food restaurant because it will use more resources form restaurant and it may affect their business.


Jody Ho, 16, Queen Elizabeth School

Yes. Obesity is quite a serious phenomenon nowadays. Junk food is found to be the main culprit and it is believed to be even more damaging to health than tobacco. Due to its great
taste, junk food is welcomed by and irresistible to many people. However, it has a lot
of additives, such as flavour enhancers, artificial colourings, etc. which are chemicals
detrimental to health. The high fat, sugar and salt contents in junk food contributes to
obesity. If junk food comes with health warnings, I am sure that people will be more aware of the potential health hazards and will therefore think twice before they consume.


Cheri Lau, 12, Pope Paul College

No,because the health warning is useless. For example, there are always some health warning labels on cigarette boxes,but a lot of people still continue to smoke. Having the health warning on junk food will have the same effect. People already know about what bad junk food can bring to their health, but they can just turn a blind eye on it. 


Markus Chiu,12,HKMA David Li Kwok Po Collage

In my opinion, many food items do not pose health problems if they are consumed in moderation. In other words, warning labels would be not only ineffective but also unjust in some cases. What the government needs to do is educate people about healthy diets so they can develop healthier eating habits and reduce the chance getting health problems caused by junk food. 

Edited by Nicole Moraleda


In our next Talking Points, we’ll discuss:

Should there be higher taxes on meat products?

We are now accepting your answers for this topic. To take part, email your answer with your name, age, and school, along with a nice, clear selfie (make sure it’s not blurry), to yp@scmp.com by lunchtime on Monday. Don’t forget to include “Talking Points” in the subject line.

This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
Should junk food come with health warnings?

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