Behavioral insights from across the pond: how nudging tools from the U.K. won't help reduce obesity In the U.S.
Dorsi, Alison M.
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Obesity has become a major issue in advanced societies having serious impacts on various social as well as economic levels. In addition to the personal costs of obesity leading to serious and chronic diseases, obesity projects additional burdens upon society including lack of productivity, often resulting in increased dependence on governmental benefits, as well as increasing health care costs, most of which are paid for by taxes. This phenomenon has become especially prevalent in the United States and the United Kingdom, with both countries attempting to reduce obesity levels with programs that utilize varying levels of paternalism. As the costs to these societies have become unsustainable, both have begun to experiment with behavioral insights to address the faults in their current programs. The resulting policy tool, known as a nudge, focuses on consumers' choice environments that contribute to poor health decisions and reframes the choice structures to intuitively encourage healthier choices. While both countries continue to study the use of nudges to reduce obesity, there are large differences in how each country has utilized nudges as a policy tool. For this large-scale problem and others like it, having the resources to develop policy solutions is not enough to resolve the problem: a country must be able to properly implement the solutions for them to be effective. This paper examines the development of nudging in each country and determines whether their differences in policy application reflect a broader problem of obesity-related policy intervention.