News

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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Hardwiring Patient Engagement to Deliver Better Health

Providers often throw up their hands in frustration when they see the same patients repeatedly readmitted to the hospital for behaviors such as failing to take their medications at home or eating a high salt diet when they have heart failure. Many acute exacerbations of chronic disease are from patients having trouble following through with provider recommendations — whether to eat healthy foods, watch fluid balance, take medications, lose weight, quit smoking, or avoid alcohol or other drugs. Generally, the standard approaches clinicians take to address these issues, such as cajoling or providing information in a brief face-to-face encounter, don’t…

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Some strategies to limit sugary drinks may backfire

New research from Leslie John, Phd, published in Psychological Science finds that some strategies to reduce sugary drink consumption can actually generate the opposite effect.  In particular, offering smaller cup sizes with free refills actually increases sugary drink consumption. “Our research provides insight into the effectiveness of a portion limit policy,” John says. “We identify one circumstance – bundling – where the reduction in purchasing of sugar-sweetened beverages is likely to be realized, and another – refills – where the policy can in certain cases have an unintended consequence of increasing consumption.” Read more at Medical Xpress and UPI.

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Could Solving This One Problem Solve All the Others?

The biggest problem with humanity is humans themselves. Too often, we make choices — what we eat, how we spend our money and time — that undermine our well-being. An all-star team of academic researchers thinks it has the solution: perfecting the science of behavior change. Will it work? Now, there’s been plenty of progress in the science of behavior change. As listeners of this program know well. So, together, Milkman and Duckworth began to dream up a project. A huge project. It would seek to experiment with, and understand, and codify, and eventually distribute, to all of humanity, the…

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Forbes: Making Weight Loss Behavior Change Stick

In a piece for Forbes, Duke University’s Peter Ubel cites experiments by Kevin Volpp studying the impact of lotteries and regret avoidance on weight loss behaviors. Ubel argues that further research is needed to understand how these changes in behavior can be extended for long-lasting weight loss.

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