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Knowledge, nudge or nanny: societal choices to encourage a healthy diet

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Great Hall, Wills Memorial Building

University of Bristol

Queens Road

Bristol

BS8 1RJ

United Kingdom

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Poor diet is the leading risk factor in the UK for ill-health and premature death. But while the fundamental components of a healthy diet are well established - we need to consume less saturated fat, sugar and salt and eat more fibre, fruit and vegetables - much less is known about effective interventions to improve the nation’s diet that will be acceptable to society. Actions to date have relied heavily on increasing knowledge and educating individuals to make better choices, but new research shows that most of what we eat is not the result of a deliberative process, but instead occurs below the level of conscious decision-making. This implies that nudges in the environment to change the default to a healthier alternative may be an important component to improve eating habits. But some question whether this will be enough.Is stronger policy action required – a nanny to protect society from eating its way to an early grave?

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Great Hall, Wills Memorial Building

University of Bristol

Queens Road

Bristol

BS8 1RJ

United Kingdom

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