Nudging to Move: A Scoping Review of the Use of Choice Architecture Interventions to Promote Physical Activity in the General Population

Sarah Forberger, Lucia A. Reisch, Teresa Kampfmann, Hajo Zeeb

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Background: Nudges are used to alter lifestyles and thus curb the rise of non-communicable diseases. Physical activity is a core prevention strategy to reduce the burden of non-communicable diseases. This paper aims to (1) give an overview of the scope of interventions using choice architecture techniques to promote physical activity at the population levels and (2) identify research gaps by analysing the different approaches in terms of class and type of intervention used. Methods: A systematic electronic database search was combined with snowball citation sampling of a starter set of publications to search for studies published through October 2018 reporting interventions to promote physical activity at the population level using choice architecture techniques. The methodology of the Joanna Briggs Institute for Scoping Reviews was applied. Results: In all, 35 publications were included. Most of the interventions used point-of-choice prompts tested at railway stations, shopping malls and airports (N = 27). Eight studies were online studies. While all studies were aimed at the general population, details, if reported at all, were vague and basic. All studies focused on individuallevel lifestyle behaviour. None of the studies attempted to alter population-based lifestyle behaviour. Online and “real-world” approaches were rarely combined. Neither, interventions targeting meso- and macro-level structures nor combinations of individual-level and specific meso- or macro-level interventions were found. Conclusion: Nudging is in principle an effective approach to promote physical activity within the general population. However, there are large gaps in research. Available opportunities have not yet been exhausted. Further research is needed that is explicitly based on behavioural insights and covering the full range of nudging approaches, particularly focussing on theoretical developments, practical feasibility tests and scale-up activities.
Original languageEnglish
Article number77
JournalInternational Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity
Issue number1
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - 3 Sept 2019


  • Physical activity
  • General population
  • Nudge
  • Choice architecture
  • Behavioural insights
  • Behaviourally informed policy

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