Encouraging Healthy Food Choices with Traffic-Light Labels and Choice Architecture (HLOL #195)

Anne Thorndike MD, MPH is an Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and an internist at Massachusetts General Hospital. Much of her work focuses on individual and population-level behavioral interventions to prevent cardiometabolic disease. Through implementation research, Dr. Thorndike and her team demonstrated the effectiveness of traffic light labels, choice architecture, social norms, and financial incentives to promote healthy food choices in real-life settings, such as worksite cafeterias and supermarkets.

In this podcast, Dr. Thorndike talks with Helen Osborne about:

  • A hospital cafeteria healthy eating program that uses colors, labels, and placement to guide employees, patients, and visitors toward healthier food choices.
  • Research data showing the long-term effectiveness of this program.
  • Lessons learned that can be applied in many settings. These include taking into account many aspects of dietary quality, not just calories. And labeling all foods, not just those that are healthy.

More ways to learn:

Health Literacy from A to Z: Practical Ways to Communicate Your Health Message, Second Edition (updated 2018), by Helen Osborne. Chapter 10 is especially relevant to this podcast, “Environment of Care: Entrances, Questions, Signs, and Feng Shui.”

Read a transcript of this podcast

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