Continuing our paper of the year selection…. Health psychologist and winner of the 2018 Scottish Cancer Foundation Prize and Evans Forrest medal Dr Katie Robb from University of Glasgow highlights the following paper about changing cancer related lifestyles and importantly our environments.
Changing minds about changing behaviour
Author: Professor Dame Theresa Marteau
Why you think this paper important
This readable paper illustrates the persistent error in many behaviour change policies in having the provision of information or advice as a core strategy to motivate people to have healthier lifestyles. This is very timely given the UK Health Secretary’s recent announcement to promote prevention through providing individual advice. A more effective strategy, the paper argues, would be to recognise the power of the environment in influencing our behaviour, for example, recognising that obesity is caused more by our environment than ‘free will’. As such, taxing sugary drinks or the size in which sugary drinks are sold will be more effective than appealing to people to eat more healthily.
Main take home messages
To improve health we need to move towards the idea of redesigning our environments – from redesigning cities to encourage physical activity to reducing the size of tableware in restaurants to tackle obesity.