Communicating Health Through Health Footprints

Oliver Harrison*, Cother Hajat, Cary Cooper, Gustavo Averbuj, Peter Anderson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The depth and scale of challenges posed by noncommunicable diseases such as diabetes mellitus and cardiovascular disease are now well known and clearly documented. Reducing the 4 key risk factors has been shown to reduce premature mortality and morbidity by 70% globally. The authors consider how affirmative action can be driven to reduce these risk factors through Health Footprints, targeted interventions within specific domains of consumption, on the basis of an assessment of the negative health effect of specific choices, with the goal of driving healthy choices and improving health. In this article, the authors propose a methodology that ties together insight from public health, behavioral economics, marketing, and health communication. They offer 3 specific examples for affirmative action: a Pigovian tax on unhealthy foods, group-level interventions on the basis of sharing key health data, and personalized prevention tailored to specific individuals. In addition, they discuss the approach to implementation, including the role of an apex coordinating organization in setting standards for data and ethics, and evaluation of the effect of interventions to drive continuous improvement.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)158-174
JournalJournal of Health Communication : International Perspectives
Publication statusPublished - 2011

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