Vol. 5 No. 2 (2021)
Peer Reviewed Articles

Nudging interventions on sustainable food consumption: a systematic review

Becky Blackford
Bournemouth University
Text-only image of the cover of this issue, grey green background.

Published 2021-08-01


  • Nudging Interventions,
  • Sustainable Food Choice,
  • Food Security

How to Cite

Blackford, Becky. 2021. “Nudging Interventions on Sustainable Food Consumption: A Systematic Review”. The Journal of Population and Sustainability 5 (2):17–62. https://doi.org/10.3197/jps.2021.5.2.17.


As population growth continues, sustainable food behaviour is essential to help reduce the anthropogenic modification of natural systems, driven by food production and consumption, resulting in environmental and health burdens and impacts. Nudging, a behavioural concept, has potential implications for tackling these issues, encouraging change in individuals’ intentions and decision-making via indirect proposition and reinforcement; however, lack of empirical evidence for effectiveness and the controversial framework for ethical analysis create challenges. This systematic review evaluated the effectiveness of nudging interventions on sustainable food choices, searching five databases to identify the effectiveness of such interventions. Of the 742 identified articles, 14 articles met the eligibility criteria and were included in this review. Overall, the potential of certain nudging interventions for encouraging sustainable food choices were found in strategies that targeted ‘system 1’ thinking (automatic, intuitive and non-conscious, relying on heuristics, mental shortcuts and biases), producing outcomes which were more statistically significant compared to interventions requiring consumer deliberation. Gender, sensory influences, and attractiveness of target dishes were highlighted as pivotal factors in sustainable food choice, hence research that considers these factors in conjunction with nudging interventions is required.


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