Nudge: a new and better way to improve health?

Health Policy. 2012 Feb;104(2):200-3. doi: 10.1016/j.healthpol.2011.10.013. Epub 2011 Nov 21.


Nudging, or libertarian paternalism, is presented as a new and ethically justified way of improving people's health. It has proved influential and is currently taken up by the governments in the US, the UK and France. One may question the claim that the approach is new, in any case it has many similarities with the idea of "making healthy choices easier". Whether the approach is better from an ethical perspective depends on the ethical principles one holds. From a paternalistic perspective there could be no objections, but from a libertarian, there are several. Contrary to what the authors state, libertarian paternalism is an oxymoron.

MeSH terms

  • Choice Behavior
  • Freedom
  • Health Behavior
  • Health Promotion* / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Health Promotion* / methods
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Paternalism