As Part of New Healthcare Law, Calorie Counts Go Nationwide

We've blogged a few times about the effect of calorie-count postings in restaurants in New York City - the extra information is valuable, but its efficacy in changing eating habits may be minimal among the people most likely to need a change. That said, the New York movement is now going national as part of the new healthcare law, which requires restaurant chains with 20 or more outlets to post calorie information at all their restaurants.

Is the Paradox of Choice Not So Paradoxical After All?

The psychologist Barry Schwartz's book The Paradox of Choice (here's his TED talk on the topic) was, for me at least, very persuasive. It made a compelling if counterintuitive argument: even though many people (economists especially) argue that more choice is almost always a good thing, Schwartz argued that too much choice is actually a bad thing, causing decision paralysis and unhappiness.

No Need to Reinvent the Nudge

A Boston Globe article explains how “positive deviance” — a way to change behavior by using “nudges” that already exist in a community, rather than imposing them from the outside — substantially decreased malnutrition in a Vienamese village: researchers observed children who looked more nourished than others, found that their families were feeding them crabs — considered a low-class food — and encouraged neighbors to follow the family's good example.

iPhone Altruism for Potential Organ Donors

Organ donation is one of the most altruistic things a person can do. And yet, Chapter 3 of SuperFreakonomics spells out, relying on altruism for organ donations has proved to be largely unsuccessful. There are a lot of reasons people give for not signing up as organ donors.

FREAK Shots: Nudging the Calorie Counters

We blogged about musical stairs in Stockholm that try to encourage stair-climbing rather than escalator-riding. One of the issues with this “nudge,” as Dubner wrote, is that it's probably more fun for people to descend them than to ascend.

These stairs in Lisbon, however, address that problem by appealing to the calorie conscious.

Who Will Climb the Piano Stairs?

In Stockholm's Odenplan subway station, the staircase has been retrofitted to resemble giant piano keys, which produce real sound, to encourage commuters to climb the stairs rather than ride the escalator. According to this video — which seems to be part of a Volkswagen marketing initiative, though it's unclear — it's been a raging success.

Does Posting a Calorie Count Change How People Eat?

Some time ago, we wondered if New York City's new law requiring certain restaurants to post calorie counts might provide good material for academic researchers who careabout obesity.

The answer: yes!