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Using Behavioral Economics to Design More Effective Food Policies to Address Obesity
Peggy J. Liu, Jessica Wisdom, Christina A. Roberto, Linda J. Liu, Peter A. Ubel
The article argues that informational policies implemented to help decrease obesity, such as display of caloric information on food packaging, are not as effective as they are intended to be and should be supplemented with policies that incorporate behavioral economic principles. Such policies may nudge consumers toward more healthy options while still maintaining freedom of choice.
The two main target areas for such policies may be school cafeterias and restaurants. Since the government has a stronger hold over school cafeterias, it can act more directly by, for example, making healthier options more convenient and unhealthy ones less so. Restaurants, although under less direct control, could be offered tax incentives for incorporating “nudges” into their menu, such as offering a “right-size” option. In addition, nutritional information on packaging may be presented in a more accessible format so that impulse decisions may be curbed.
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