HINTS Health improvement through nudging techniques

Project: PostDoc

Project Details


Healthy eating is crucial in the prevention and management of many chronic diseases, such as obesity, diabetes type 2,cardiovascular diseases and certain types of cancers. However, today’s food environment makes it hard to eat healthy and a large majority of the population eats less healthy than recommended. Unhealthy, palatable foods are widely available at low cost and generally present the default option. Resisting these kinds of default unhealthy choices requires effortful, conscious decisions, for which people only a have limited ability. It has been estimated that people make around 200 food decisions per day, of which about 70% results from non-reasoned, unconscious processes.Hence, most decisions are made mindlessly in response to salient cues in the environment.

Despite overwhelming evidence from behavioral science that many behaviors result from automatic, intuitive processes, state-of-the-art health promotion interventions have not found solutions to deal with the non-reasoned nature of many health behaviors. Innovative interventions that acknowledge the nature of health decisions as being driven by automatic processes in response to specific environmental cues are urgently needed. We propose that the nudge concept should be underlying the design of a new generation of health promotion strategies.

Nudges have been defined as simple changes in the presentation of choice alternatives that make the healthy choice the easy choice, and allow for decisions without much deliberation and without infringing on the autonomy of the individual. Nudge-like interventions that take advantage of the automatic nature of human behaviors are considered a superior alternative to existing health promoting interventions, with potential additional benefits in several domains including a) increased efficiency and decreased costs because the delivery of nudge-like interventions is generally cheaper and easier than currently available public health solutions, and b) reduced health inequality because nudge-like interventions do not rely on the communication and comprehension of complex information about health behavior change.

The proposed program aims to identify and investigate effects and impact of ethically acceptable nudges to promote healthy eating behaviour. Three separate projects will be conducted.
Effective start/end date1/09/161/02/21