Public health: How to encourage people to have a healthier lifestyle

Based on an interview with Alberto Alemanno and his talk on “Regulating Lifestyle: the case of unhealthy diets, alcohol and tobacco” at the conference “How companies can contribute to sustainable development issues?” at HEC Paris, June 21, 2012.

Alberto Alemanno

To fight against health problems like obesity, smoking, and alcohol abuse, governments are experimenting with new ways of regulating lifestyles. These methods, or incentives, usually involve a “nudge” that takes advantage of the irrational patterns in human behavior to encourage people to make the least harmful choices for their health.

Business Digest partners with HEC Paris and the HEC Foundation in the production of research@HEC.

Health risk factors include hidden fats and sugars in processed foods, as well as cigarettes and alcohol. When consumed in excess, they can cause diseases like diabetes, cancer, heart problems, and chronic respiratory problems, which are responsible for more than half of deaths worldwide. To fight against this increasing phenomenon, public policy makers are trying out new approaches to modify lifestyle habits. A new type of measure has emerged, which seeks to take into account how people actually behave, and not how they are expected to behave as rational agents. Alberto Alemanno, who has focused on the particular case of tobacco, does not beat around the bush: “A growing number of studies show that human beings do not always act in a way that maximizes their interests, making decisions, for example, that lead to short-term pleasure but do not take into account long-term negative effects.”[read more]

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Public health: How to encourage people to have a healthier lifestyle

Published in research@HEC, no 28, August- September, a journal that has been promoting the research of HEC Paris professors since 2007.
Based on an interview with Alberto Alemanno, professor at HEC and his talk on “Regulating Lifestyle: the case of unhealthy diets, alcohol and tobacco” at the conference “How companies can contribute to sustainable development issues?” at HEC Paris, June 21, 2012.