All the talk about nudging, not nannying, in the food and drink business has made me stop and think this week. What would really work for ‘normal people’ given how we actually currently think and behave when it comes to health?
In one of our recent Thrive Talk debates on health, this topic was raised - how do we really achieve better behaviour rather than just talk about it?
Perhaps surprisingly, we heard quite polarised views, putting forward solutions ranging from education initiatives to addiction state management.
The ‘addiction’ theory came from a senior retail industry figure, who felt that a harder, treatment-based approach for those people experiencing poor health due to obesity might be more beneficial than awaiting any change via education.
Many of the education measures being put in place were seen to be just taking too long to achieve measurable, tangible outcomes, when the issues needed to be addressed much sooner.
Most people were of the opinion we should still try and educate people to realise why they need to change behaviour for the better. That’s a long slog, though. Shouldn’t education just be seen as the weekly housekeeping in the agenda for change rather than the dominant solution?
I agree education is fundamental, but is it always an immediate call to action in the way it is being done currently?
“Shouldn’t education be seen as the weekly housekeeping?”
Two things seem to stand out for me. Firstly, I am astonished by the number of independent ‘health and wellness’ lobbying groups that are working in isolation to try and achieve change. Surely there would be significant synergies of time, resources and impact if they could work more closely together with other health lobbying groups to get a bigger ‘everyday health and wellbeing’ hit. A greater voice against a number of health issues being addressed collectively rather than one at a time? Healthy outcomes are not just about food or better hydration or good nutrition or exercise - it’s all of the above, not multiple choice. Health and wellness education needs to become more rounded and joined-up.
Secondly, I rarely see ‘poor health facts’ translated into tangible personal benefits. For example, if people will save money long term on their health or life insurance if they adopt healthier eating and exercise habits - tell them. They may be more likely to act on it!
Collaboration between lobbying groups and communication of personal benefits and outcomes to the individual will surely help cut through and make an impact in our mission to create better health outcomes. People need to get talking…
Claire Nuttall is founding partner of Thrive Unlimited