A new report from the House of Lords Science and Technology Sub-Committee says that 'nudging’ on its own is unlikely to be successful in changing the population’s behaviour.

The report 'Behaviour Change', was published yesterday, and follows a year-long investigation into the way the Government tries to influence people’s behaviour using interventions.

It found that “nudges” used in isolation will often not be effective in changing the behaviour of the population. Instead, a whole range of measures will be needed to change behaviour in a significant manner.

Other findings and recommendations from the Committee include:

  • The Government must invest in gathering more evidence about what measures work to influence population behaviour change.
  • They should appoint an independent Chief Social Scientist to provide them with robust and independent scientific advice.
  • The Government should take steps to implement a traffic light system of nutritional labelling on all food packaging.
  • Current voluntary agreements with businesses in relation to public health have major failings. They are not a proportionate response to the scale of the problem of obesity and do not reflect the evidence about what will work to reduce obesity. If effective agreements cannot be reached, or if they show minimal benefit, the Government should pursue regulation.

Committee Chair, Baroness Neuberger, said "Changing the behaviour of a population is likely to take time, perhaps a generation or more, and politicians usually look for quick win solutions. The Government needs to be braver about mixing and matching policy measures, using both incentives and disincentives to bring about change."

"They must also get much better at evaluating the measures they put in place.In order to help people live healthier and happier lives, we need to understand much more about what sorts of policies will have an effect on how people behave. And the best way to do this is through research, proper evaluation of policies and the provision of well-informed and independent scientific advice."

Click here to download the report.

Click here to read an article by Baroness Neuberger about the report.

 

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