Actions speak louder than words. Turns out that just telling people they need to eat healthy doesn’t work nearly as well as some simple physical actions. Clearly, with almost 70 per cent of us overweight, just talking about healthy eating isn’t enough.
Behavioral nudges have emerged as the best way to improve healthy eating, according to a new paper by Pierre Chandon, Professor of Marketing at INSEAD, and Romain Cadario, Assistant Professor of Marketing at IÉSEG School of Management.
Ever since Richard Thaler won the Nobel Prize in Economics, “nudge” has been front and center in the interest of researchers and policy makers. A simple definition of nudge is an intervention that attempts to influence behaviors without using economic incentives and while preserving freedom of choice.
In a meta-analysis of real-life experiments drawn from food science, nutrition, health economics, marketing and psychology, the authors find that behavioral nudges – facilitating action rather than providing knowledge or inducing feelings – can reduce daily energy intake by up to 209 kcal, the same number of calories as in 21 cubes of sugar.
“Just changing the amount of food on a plate or the location of the food – without necessarily educating people about nutrition content or convincing them that they should eat healthily – is the most effective intervention because you don’t need to rely on changing people’s beliefs or their goals,” said Chandon. “There is tremendous potential to help people to eat better.”
Seven ways restaurants and grocery stores can nudge food choices