THIS WEEK’S BIG QUESTION: How can the Government avoid health warning fatigue?

A study has revealed the public is becoming apathetic to Government health warnings

A study has revealed the public is becoming apathetic to Government

health warnings


GCI Healthcare

’The problem is that health warnings always say ’Do less of something

you enjoy and do more of what you don’t’ so it is no wonder people

ignore them. The Government needs to think carefully about making its

messages more acceptable to their target audience and less ’worthy’ to

get the response they seek.’



’The Government could avoid health warning fatigue through investment in

high-profile, targeted, hard-hitting campaigns rather than the

traditional drip-feed approach which loses significance and relevance

over time.’


Health Education Authority

’There is nothing new about warning fatigue and the forbidden fruit

syndrome. All our campaigns are founded in research, we pre-test them

and we research what people listen to and what they don’t. That’s why

our anti-smoking campaign covers a range from aspirational to


We constantly evaluate our campaigns to discover how people’s views are

changing. We think people should know about health risks and they should

be given good evidence and robust research on which to base their




’The whole health warnings area is a pig’s ear and it will continue to

be. The press continues to sensationalise and take warnings out of

context. Health has become such a hot topic, but so much coverage is

contradictory and it is very difficult for the Government. There have

been numerous examples of health scares in the last ten years and

continuing to warn people with misleading information does no one any



Henderson Group One

’There is no question that too many health warnings are

counter-productive. If warnings are shocking and frightening and are

then proved to be wrong, the public is not so impressed the next time

People say to themselves: ’They got that wrong, so why should we have

confidence in them now?’ Beef on the bone and breast cancer are both

issues that have been mishandled. Also, some health warnings are so

complicated - the wording so obscure and opaque - that they are beyond

the average reader.’

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