Nudged In The Gut

Based on a “clear correlation between increases in portion sizes and increases in obesity”, Cass Sunstein, Nudge co-author, suggests “attention to the subtle social cues that lead to excessive eating” as a starting point for improving public health:

Brian Wansink, a Cornell University professor of consumer behavior, helps to explain why portion sizes have such a large effect. He finds that much of our eating is mindless or automatic in that we tend to eat whatever is in front of us. If you are given a half-pound bag of M&M’s, chances are that you will eat about half as much as you will if you are given a one- pound bag. People who receive large bowls of ice cream eat a lot more than those who get small bowls.

The good news is that once we isolate the sources of excessive eating, we will be able to identify potential solutions. Google Inc. found that its New York cafeteria, which offered a lot of high-calorie items, was producing a lot of unwanted pounds. In response to employee complaints, it initiated changes to nudge people toward healthier choices. … The redesigned cafeteria took a number of smart steps to make healthy choices simpler and more convenient (and to make less healthy choices less so). As a result, it helped to produce big reductions in both calories and fat consumed from candy.

See the related Dish thread on Bloomberg’s soda ban here.