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Behavioral Economics

Behavioral economics is a powerful, evidence-based tool for both understanding and influencing human behavior in individuals, groups, and institutions. With its focus on the social, cognitive, and emotional factors that affect personal economic decisions, it is rapidly gaining attention as an innovative opportunity to help improve consumer choices and behaviors. Leaders in the field include Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman, and Richard Thaler, as well as Cass Sunstein, who have published work on building choice architecture to promote certain decisions through “nudges.”

The Vitality Institute supports the use of principles of behavioral economics to promote healthy habits. These include specific behaviors such as smoking cessation, healthier eating and weight loss, and medication adherence through financial incentives, lotteries, choice architecture, and framing.

The Evidence

Research to stop tobacco deaths

by Derek Yach, Angela Pratt, Thomas J Glynn and K Srinath Reddy Abstract In 2003, governments adopted the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, the world’s first global health treaty. In the decade since the treaty was... More »

Globalization and Health | May 21, 2014

Cash for Carrots Could Save Lives

Non-communicable diseases have become more prevalent over the past years. The risk for non-communicable diseases are mostly related to personal behavior, especially diet behaviors. By lowering the price of healthy food such as vegetables and... More »

World Economic Forum | April 2, 2013

Healthier by Precommitment

We tested a voluntary self-control commitment device to help grocery shoppers make healthier food purchases. Participants, who were already enrolled in a large-scale incentive program that discounts the price of eligible groceries by 25%, were... More »

Psychological Science | January 14, 2014

Getting on the Treadmill

THE thorniest problem facing the health-care profession is how to strike the right balance between promoting health and curing illness. As is routinely pointed out, prevention is better than cure—and cheaper too. But the forces... More »

The Economist | October 8, 2011

Incentivize Your Way to Good Health in 2011

There is an increasing number of companies participating in workplace wellness programs that provide incentives for the employees to adapt healthy habits. The Vitality Group has programs that offer rewards to its customers if they... More »

The NY Times | December 31, 2010

Nudge, nudge

The app "weight watcher" would be a new tool to encourage sensible behavior as it can help people track their healthy routine and create healthy environment.  

The Economist | December 15, 2012

Battle Obesity by Lowering Prices of Healthy Food

Since the early 1980s, federal dietary guidelines have urged Americans to eat more nutrient-rich foods and cut back on fatty foods and highly processed “empty calorie” snacks such as cookies and chips. But those pleas... More »

Modern Healthcare | May 25, 2013

Leveraging the power of ‘benevolent bribes’

A global leader is proving to be homegrown: Vitality, Discovery’s wellness, loyalty and rewards programme. The company says it is at "the forefront of innovative global healthcare, thanks to groundbreaking techniques incorporating evidence-based interventions drawn... More »

Business Day | November 21, 2013

A Cash-Back Rebate Program for Healthy Food Purchases in South Africa: Results from Scanner Data

Background: Improving diet quality is a key health promotion strategy. There is much interest in the role of prices and fınancial incentives to encourage healthy diet, but no data from large population interventions. Purpose: This... More »

American Journal of Preventive Medicine | March 19, 2013

Looking for the Next Breakthrough in Tobacco Control and Health

South African statistics on cigarette smoking suggest that there are grounds for some celebration on how rapidly consumption has fallen since the institution of anti-smoking policies started roughly 20 years ago. As with other countries,... More »

The South African Medical Journal | November 2013