Beyond Carrots and Sticks: Europeans Support Health Nudges

Lucia A. Reisch, Cass R. Sunstein, Wencke Gwozdz

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


All over the world, nations are using “health nudges” to promote healthier food choices and to reduce the health care costs of obesity and non-communicable diseases. In some circles, the relevant reforms are controversial. On the basis of nationally representative online surveys, we examine whether Europeans favour such nudges. The simplest answer is that majorities in six European nations (Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, and the UK) do so. We find majority approval for a series of nudges, including educational messages in movie theaters, calorie and warning labels, store placement promoting healthier food, sweet-free supermarket cashiers and meat-free days in cafeterias. At the same time, we find somewhat lower approval rates in Hungary and Denmark. An implication for policymakers is that citizens are highly likely to support health nudges. An implication for further research is the importance of identifying the reasons for cross-national differences, where they exist.
Original languageEnglish
JournalFood Policy
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - May 2017

Bibliographical note

Published online: 3. February 2017


  • Health policy
  • Health nudges
  • Behavioural regulation
  • Acceptability
  • Health defaults

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