Bitesized: The nudge

I do do Twitter. I don’t do Facebook. Pinterest holds no interest and I’m not a fan of instagram. Reddit? Don’t get it. Snapchat? Seriously, no idea.

But I am on LinkedIn: the boring social network. Not as Running Buffet, mind you, but as my alter ego, my secret identity. The Clark Kent to Running Buffet’s Superman, if you will; the one who has the day job and works in an office. (I don’t work for the Daily Planet, though. Just so we’re clear.)

A little while ago, this article popped up on LinkedIn: How Google Employees Cut 3 Million Calories From Their Diets. And it is actually quite interesting. Google, being one of those cool places to work where you get given free food, has been testing how the physical environment they use to provide the food influences how and what people eat. Their stated aim is “to improve the quantity and quality of Googlers’ lives”. Now, I’m not sure how well they are going to do on the ‘quantity’ front (Google Reincarnate© – coming to a computer near you soon), but I commend them on trying to improve their employees’ quality of life. In short, this means helping them to make healthier choices when it comes to food.

The technique used, so the article goes on to explain, is ‘the nudge’: “Nudging involves subtly changing the structure of the environment without limiting choice.” To give an example, Google placed the “better” snacks in glass jars and the candy (that’s sweets to you or I) into coloured, opaque jars. Out of sight, out of mind. Measuring the amount eaten after seven weeks, they found that there had been a reduction of 3.1 million calories (versus the consumption they measured during a control period). Crucially, the sweets were still there – they hadn’t been removed – but they had been made slightly less visible than the alternatives.

Which is quite interesting, I think. As the article says, this is something that may pay dividends for us at home as well.

I’m off to wander around the kitchen with the aim of subtly changing the structure of my environment. Basically, I’m going to move some stuff around. Mrs RB is never going to be able to find anything once I’m finished…

(Google logo taken from – it’s their new one. No I hadn’t noticed either.)