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Personal view - Personal view

Enough nudges—time for a shove

  • By: Clemency Nye
  • Published: 18 April 2012
  • DOI: 10.1136/sbmj.e1150
  • Cite this as: Student BMJ 2012;20:e1150

Recently, Denmark introduced the world’s first “fat tax”—a tax on the purchase of foods high in saturated fats. So will the UK, Europe’s fattest country, be introducing a similar tax? Andrew Lansley, the health secretary, claims we will not follow suit because “nudges are very important” and “tax is not a nudge, tax is a shove.” Yet when we look at the obesity statistics, we can conclude that the time for nudges has passed. The percentage of men classified as clinically obese in the UK has risen from 13.2% in 1993 to 22% in 2009, and from 16.4% to 24% for women over the same time.1 This rise requires decisive action.

The government is keen on nudges—using positive influence to alter public behaviour. Such nudges against obesity include the “traffic light” food labelling scheme and the Change4life advertising campaign, which aims to educate people on healthy eating and the benefits

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