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No 1054:
A Behavioural Approach to Health Promotion: Informing the Global NCD Agenda with Behavioural

Alberto Alemanno ()

Abstract: At a time in which behavioural science has gained increasing attention for the design of population-wide health interventions, this chapter discusses its potential contributions to the prevention and control of Non-Communicable-Diseases (NCDs). Given the largely preventable nature of NCDs, any lifestyle intervention faces the challenge to induce behavioural change. By highlighting the role of social and physical environments in shaping our behaviour, applied behavioural science provides policymakers with a new understanding of human decision-making and, as a result, may support an innovative approach to the promotion of behaviour change leading to healthier lives.

While only a combination of policy instruments, such as legislation, regulation, and even financial and fiscal incentives, may induce behaviour change to the scale required to reduce the burden of chronic disease at the population level, a behavioural informed approach may valuably complement the current regulatory mix. In particular, an analysis of the WHO NCD Action Plan and its accompanying strategies suggests an increased awareness of the roles played by environmental and social factors on behaviour change. Although the language employed falls short of operationalizing the major behavioural insights into the NCD agenda, it clearly highlights that their integration into the current regulatory mix appears fundamental today for the design of any lifestyle policy intervention.

As behavioural change is progressively becoming the focus of health promotion efforts, the lesson learned is that there is more to behaviour change than merely empowering the targeted individuals, communities and populations with the necessary information.

Keywords: Health law; NCD; WHO; Nudge; Libertarian Paternalism; Behavioral change; Lifestyle; Regulation; (follow links to similar papers)

JEL-Codes: I12; I28; J18; K00; K20; K23; K32; M00; (follow links to similar papers)

24 pages, August 4, 2014

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