CHOiCE: Choosing the Healthy Option in a Choice Environment


Internal funding from the Department of Public and Occupational Health, VU University Medical Center


Technological and economic advances in the past decades have nowadays resulted in people living a lifestyle that is characterized by high rates of sitting and low levels of physical activity,  which increases people’s risk for non-communicable diseases. A promising approach to change health behaviors is the use of ‘choice architecture’. The term refers to practice of influencing behaviors by organizing the context in which people make choices. 

The aim of the CHOiCE project is to investigate which choice architecture interventions effectively (1) foster active health choices (that engender commitment towards specific health goals); and (2) support maintenance of health behaviors (by promoting habit formation), with choices and behaviors being in line with individuals’ beliefs, needs, values and preferences. The project focusses on two different populations: (a) sedentary, physically inactive healthy individuals and (b) individuals at increased risk for cardiovascular disease. 

The project consists of three main stages, with each new stage building on the insights derived in the previous stage(s):

  1. A systematic literature review on choice architecture interventions that promote physical activity and discourage sedentary behavior;

  2. Qualitative studies on people’s beliefs, needs, values and preferences in the context of choices about health behavior;

  3. Quantitative, experimental proof-of-principle studies on the effects of different types of choice architecture.

 The ultimate aim of the project is to empower people to make healthy choices and to engage in health behaviors in the long term.