News

When It Comes to Calorie Consumption, Is Knowledge Power?

“The other day, I went to order lunch from a local chain restaurant. Half a turkey sandwich and a small cup of soup sounded like a good, appropriately sized, warm meal for a wintery day. As I placed my order, a kiosk tallied the calories right before my eyes: 400 for the sandwich and almost 300 for the soup… Hmm. That seemed like a lot. Maybe, I thought, if I remove the bacon from the sandwich… and get a smaller soup…? “You know Image credit: Terrence Horan, MarketWatch what? I’m sure it’s fine,” I told myself, and completed the order….

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Reuters: Young diabetics may check sugar more when money’s at stake

Teens and young adults with diabetes may do a better job of checking their blood sugar when they get daily financial incentives than when there’s no cash on the line, a recent experiment suggests. Researchers tested out the potential for money to motivate young people to test blood sugar daily by offering $60 a month up front and then subtracting $2 for each day a participant didn’t follow through on required testing. For three months, researchers randomly selected 90 teens and young adults to get these cash incentives or no reward at all. Overall, the youth with money at stake…

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Healthcare Finance: A healthier population will lead to lower healthcare costs, healthcare pros tell Senate panel

Perhaps the simplest way to reduce healthcare costs is to promote a healthier lifestyle among the U.S. population, experts told the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions on Thursday. The testimony was framed in the context of employer-sponsored health plans, and focused on initiatives employers can take to improve employees’ health and mitigate the financial burden to the healthcare system. Statistics indicate the opportunity for such programs to make a significant difference. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, healthcare costs represented just 9 percent of gross domestic product in 1980. Flash forward to 2017, and those…

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LDI Symposium Highlights Promising Behavioral Solutions to Public Health Challenges

Earlier this month, our founding partner, the Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics, celebrated 50 years of research with a symposium drawing together some of the brightest minds in health policy. At a panel focused on the potential for behavioral science to influence health care, CHIBE Director Kevin Volpp, MD, PhD joined External Advisory Board member Robert Galvin, MD, Internal Advisory Board member Barbara Kahn, PhD, MBA, MPhil and renowned Duke University behavioral economist Peter Ubel, MD to outline behavioral solutions that address premature mortality in the United States. The panel, moderated by Internal Advisory Board member David Asch, MD,…

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New York Times: NYC calorie rule scrutinized in courts of law, and science

As a court fight simmers over New York City’s pioneering requirement for calorie counts on chain restaurant menus, scientists say the jury’s still out on whether giving people the numbers spurs them to eat healthier. CHIBE’s Christina Roberto says, “It’s unreasonable to say, ‘If this one policy doesn’t reduce obesity, it’s a failure,’ because the chances any one policy will do that are incredibly small.” Read more in the New York Times.

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Closing the Scholarship-Policy Gap with Strategic Science

This summer the Trump administration announced further delays in (1) implementing calorie labels on restaurant menus across the nation and (2) rolling out a new nutrition facts label. Both policies are designed to increase nutrition transparency and arm consumers with important health information when making decisions. This signals little interest from the current administration in promoting sound, common-sense nutrition policies. It also highlights a need, more than ever, for scientists to communicate with policymakers at the federal, state, and local levels, to encourage evidence-based policymaking. Most of the time, scientists generate their research questions based on what they think is interesting and important. This approach…

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The Ringer: The Scientists Who Shape What and How We Eat

In the early 1900s, the American breakfast looked very different from what we think of as traditional today. Instead of artery-clogging platters of meat, eggs, and potatoes, most breakfasts consisted of little more than a roll, fruit, and coffee to wash it all down. As people left rural areas for the cities and for new opportunities brought about by the Industrial Revolution, they left heavy farm breakfasts behind them, too. Those in the bacon business weren’t pleased. In the 1920s, Beech-Nut Packing Company contacted a man named Edward Bernays and asked him to find a way to get people to eat…

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When Push Comes to Nudge

Imagine if health care costs could be dramatically reduced, and outcomes improved without any heavy lifting – no bills would need to be passed, no policies approved, and no major restructuring required. What if we could simply will people to make decisions that resulted in better care and a healthier population? “Decisions are affected by emotions, bias, social context. The solution is design,” David Asch, MD, MBA, executive director of Penn’s Center for Health Care Innovation, recently said at the Healthcare Financial Management Association’s annual conference. The idea that better decisions can be made simply by guiding people to them…

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Fast Company: Want to employ behavioral science for good? Here’s a helpful collection of ideas

Fast Company takes a look at B-Hub, a collaborative online platform built by CHIBE, ideas42 and Innovations for Poverty Action to provide policy-relevant behavioral insights in an easy to digest format. The article says that “Crucially, the database doesn’t just link to what’s been previously published elsewhere—everything has been painstakingly reformatted to shares costs, challenges, impact, and results, and real-life examples of what the each “nudge” actually looked like.”

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New York Times: How behavioral economics can produce better health care

A New York Times Upshot article by Dr. Dhruv Khullar profiles the research of Dr. Kevin Volpp as part of the Center for Health Incentives and Behavioral Economics. Khullar says that “insights [from behavioral economics] might be particularly valuable in health care because medical decision-making is permeated with uncertainty, complexity and emotion — all of which make it hard to weigh our options.”

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