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Nudging in isolation not enough for healthy behaviour change, say peers

The Government’s aim to ‘nudge’ people in to being healthier needs to be coupled with regulation, according to a report from the House of Lords.

The Behaviour Change report, by the Lords’ Science and Technology Sub-Committee, concludes that nudging needs to be part of a package of measures, which include regulation, to help bring about healthy changes in behaviour.

Our head of policy and advocacy, Maura Gillespie, said: “This report confirms that nudging is not enough by itself and that Government regulation is necessary to effectively help people make healthier choices.

“Let’s hope the Government remembers this when considering whether to introduce plain packaging for cigarettes later this year. Research has shown how brand logos and colours on current cigarette packs can mislead smokers into thinking certain brands have lower health risks. Generic packaging reduces these misconceptions and increases the effectiveness of health warnings. This is a great example of how legislation is needed to complement a nudging approach to help people kick their deadly nicotine addiction for good.

Let’s hope the Government remembers this when considering whether to introduce plain packaging for cigarettes

“The peers’ call on Government to implement traffic light food labels is also good news.  Independent research shows that labels on the front of food packs that include traffic lights give shoppers the best information to help them make healthy choices. We’re calling on the Government to do everything it can to get traffic light labels onto food packs – starting with formally recommending these to food manufacturers and retailers.”

The report also highlights evidence on the need to extend restrictions on advertising products to children that are high in fat, salt and sugar. The BHF is calling for all junk food adverts to be screened after the 9pm watershed, and for the independent development of regulations for non-broadcast marketing.

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