Making Healthy Choices Easier: Regulation vs. Nudging

Pelle Guldborg Hansen, Laurits Rohden Skov, Katrine Lund Skov

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


In recent years the nudge approach to behavior change has emerged from the behavioral sciences to challenge the traditional use of regulation in public health strategies for dealing with modifiable individual level behaviors related to the rise of noncommunicable diseases and their treatment. However, integration and testing of the nudge approach as part of more comprehensive public health strategies aimed at making healthy choices easier is being threatened by inadequate understandings of its scientific character, relationship with regulation and its ethical implications. This article reviews this character and its ethical implication with a special emphasis on the compatibility of nudging with traditional regulation, special domains of experience, and the need for a more nuanced approach to the ethical debate. The aim is to advance readers understanding and give guidance to those who consider working with or incorporating the nudge approach into programs or policies aimed at making healthy choices easier
Original languageEnglish
JournalAnnual Review of Public Health
Pages (from-to)237-251
Number of pages17
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • nudge
  • regulation
  • public health
  • organ donation
  • consumption

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