behavioral economics Archives - Shopfloor

Why Wasn’t This in the Health Care Bill?

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CNSNews.com, April 8, “Sebelius: FDA Will Require Health Labels on Front of Food Packages“:

(CNSNews.com) — Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Kathleen Sebelius said today that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is developing a new regulation  that would require food manufacturers to display nutritional information on the front of packages.
This would mean that the front of a Wheaties box, for example, would display not only the smiling face of a famous athlete but also declare how many calories from fat are in each serving.
“Busy shoppers will be able to go into grocery stores and have some easy to understand information on the front of packages giving them quick data on what is a healthier choice,” said Sebelius at the U.S. Capitol

Busy shoppers are so busy, they cannot be expected to turn the box around and look on the backside!

In a fortuitous coincidence, The Weekly Standard’s cover story this week is “Nudge Nudge, Wink Wink,” with a secondary headline, “Behavioral economics—the governing theory of Obama’s nanny state.” The article explores the Obama Administration’s desire to move away from cost-benefit analysis in regulation, an approach advocated in Cass Sunstein and Richard’s Thaler’s “Nudge.” In the magazine, Andrew Ferguson writes: 

Just as Obama is a liberal Democrat who, his admirers insist, isn’t really a liberal Democrat, behavioral economics proposes government regulation that, behavioral economists insist, isn’t really regulation. Under the influence of libertarian paternalism, regulators abandon their old roles as mini-commissars and become “choice architects,” arranging the everyday choices that members of the public face in such a way that they’ll naturally do the right thing—eat well, conserve energy, save more, drive safely, floss. In the literature the unavoidable example of this involves cafeteria food. Customers in line are more likely to choose food displayed at eye level; this concept, called “salience,” comes to us from behavioral science lab work. A wised-up cafeteria operator who wants his customers to eat healthier foods—at a high school, for example—will give prominent place to fresh fruits in the dessert line and push the Boston Cream Pie to the back. The kids won’t be forced to choose the fruit; the pie will still be there, if their pudgy little arms can reach it. 

Sunstein is now the head of President Obama’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, the top regulatory review job in the Administration. Kathleen Sebelius, she’s head of the Department of Health and Human Services and its new Office of Salience Coordination.

More from CNSNews.com, and thanks to them for covering these issues, “Sebelius Says President Obama Has Instructed All Cabinet-Level Departments to Promote Public Health.”