Skip to main content
×
×
Home

The problem of obesity and dietary nudges

  • Eliah J. White (a1)
Abstract

From a psychological perspective, Cass R. Sunstein’s 2016 book The Ethics of Influence is an insightful examination of the ethics of using social and cognitive psychological principles to influence behavior and decision-making. The United States has been experiencing what can only be described as an obesity epidemic. Scientists know that this epidemic has been brought about in part by the prevailing choice architecture, which influences what we eat, how much we eat, and how little we exercise. From a public health perspective, the policy issue centers on how a democracy can employ a combination of bans, mandates, and nudges to reshape our dietary habits to combat obesity. In this article, I will address how policymakers must nudge and change the existing psychological and physical choice architecture to combat obesity. The obesity epidemic cannot be won solely by increasing taxes, mandates, and bans on certain food items as that infringes on the personal liberty, welfare, autonomy, and dignity of citizens.

Copyright
Corresponding author
Correspondence: Eliah J. White, Psychological Science, Northern Kentucky University College of Arts and Sciences, Highland Heights, Kentucky, 41099. Email: whiteej1234@gmail.com
References
Hide All
1 Gardner, B., Lally, P., and Wardle, J., “Making health habitual: the psychology of ‘habit-formation’ and general practice,” British Journal of General Practice , 2012, 62(605): 664666, doi:10.3399/bjgp12X659466.
2 Thaler, R. H. and Sunstein, C. R., Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth, and Happiness (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2008).
3 Laibson, D., “Golden eggs and hyperbolic discounting,” Quarterly Journal of Economics , 1997, 112(2): 443478, doi:10.1162/003355397555253.
4 Royer, H., Stehr, M., and Sydnor, J., “Incentives, commitments, and habit formation in exercise: Evidence from a field experiment with workers at a Fortune-500 company,” American Economic Journal: Applied Economics , 2015, 7(3): 5184.
5 Giné, X., Karlan, D., and Zinman, J., “Put your money where your butt is: A commitment contract for smoking cessation,” American Economic Journal: Applied Economics , 2010, 2(4): 213235.
6 Bhattacharya, J., Garber, A., and Goldhaber-Fiebert, J., “Nudges in exercise commitment contracts: A randomized trial,” Working Paper w21406 (Cambridge, MA: National Bureau of Economic Research, 2015).
7 Karlan, D., http://www.stickk.com.
8 Courneya, K. and McAuley, E., “Cognitive mediators of the social influence-exercise adherence relationship: A test of the theory of planned behavior,” Journal of Behavioral Medicine , 1995, 18(5): 499515.
9 Wang, M. L., Pbert, L., and Lemon, S. C., “The influence of family, friend, and coworker social support and social undermining on weight gain prevention among adults,” Obesity , 2014, 22(9): 19731980.
10 Elliot, A. J., ed., Handbook of Approach and Avoidance Motivation (New York: Psychology Press, 2008).
11 Dalley, S. E. and Buunk, A. P., “The motivation to diet in young women: Fear is stronger than hope,” European Journal of Social Psychology , 2011, 41(5): 672680.
12 Wansink, B., “Changing eating habits on the home front: Lost lessons from World War II research,” Journal of Public Policy & Marketing , 2002, 21(1): 9099.
13National Livestock and Meat Board, “Variety meats: Recipes for heart, liver, kidney, sweetbreads, tongue, tripe and brains,” brochure, 1943.
14 Mead, M., “Dietary patterns and food habits,” Journal of the American Dietetic Association , 1943, 19(1): 15.
15 U.S. Department of Agriculture, “Documentation,” https://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/food-access-research-atlas/documentation/(accessed September 19, 2017).
16 Dimitri, C., Oberholtzer, L., and Nischan, M., “Reducing the geographic and financial barriers to food access: Perceived benefits of farmers’ markets and monetary incentives,” Journal of Hunger and Environmental Nutrition , 2013, 8(4): 429444.
17 Sunstein, C. R., The Ethics of Influence: Government in the Age of Behavioral Science (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2016).
18 Block, J. and Willett, W., “Taxing sugar-sweetened beverages: Not a ‘holy grail’ but a cup at least half full,” International Journal of Health Policy Management , 2013, 1(2): 183185.
19 Bomey, N., “Soda tax goes flat in Chicago area’s Cook County after clash over health, taxes, sales,” USA Today , October 11, 2017.
20 Wilson, N., Just, D., Swigert, J., and Wansink, B., “Food pantry selection solutions: A randomized controlled trial in client-choice food pantries to nudge clients to targeted foods,” Journal of Public Health , 2016, 39(2): 366372, doi:10.1093/pubmed/fdw043.
21 Payne, C., Niculescu, M., Just, D., and Kelly, M., “Shopper marketing nutrition interventions: Social norms on grocery carts increase purchases without increasing shopper budgets,” Preventive Medicine Reports , 2015, 2(1): 287291.
22 Payne, C., Niculescu, M., Just, D., and Kelly, M., “This way to produce: Strategic use of arrows on grocery floors facilitate produce spending without increasing shopper budgets,” Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior , 2016, 48(7): 512513.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Politics and the Life Sciences
  • ISSN: 0730-9384
  • EISSN: 1471-5457
  • URL: /core/journals/politics-and-the-life-sciences
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Keywords

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 16
Total number of PDF views: 117 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 711 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between 2nd May 2018 - 16th July 2018. This data will be updated every 24 hours.