CASH comment on the House of Lords Science and Technology Sub-Committee’s report, Behaviour Change

Tuesday 19 July 2011

Professor Graham MacGregor of the Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine and Chairman of CASH says, in response to the publication of the report, ‘Behaviour Change’

We strongly agree with the Report, that the government needs to rethink its policy on nudging, as there is little evidence that this approach works for improving diets.

A good example of a successful public health policy is salt reduction, where the UK is leading the world.  You could ask consumers to avoid high salt products, but this would be extremely difficult to do as the labelling for salt and sodium is incomprehensible to most people.  A much better policy is to get the food industry (who put all the unnecessary salt in our food) to slowly reduce it in all their products.

The food industry is now doing this, which has already resulted in a fall in salt intake in England (from 9.5g/salt a day in 2006 to 8.6g/day in 2008).  This reduction in salt is estimated to have prevented more than 6,000 deaths from strokes and heart attacks a year.  Further reductions have been made since then.

Everyone has had a reduction in salt intake, yet most consumers are unaware that these reductions have been made, now the world is following the UK’s example. As is clear in this report, if this government is serious about reducing salt, saturated fat and sugar in our diets, they need to look beyond ‘nudge’ and at who is responsible for making our food unhealthy – the food industry – and get them to take action.  

Click here for the committee's press release