BMJ GLOBAL HEALTH - Global red and processed meat trade and non-communicable diseases


October 7, 2021 - <>, <> and <>

BMJ GLOBAL HEALTH - Global red and processed meat trade and non-communicable diseases




Rapid increases in the trade of global red and processed meat impede international efforts toward sustainable diets by increasing meat consumption. However, little research has examined cross-country variations in diet-related non-communicable diseases (NCDs) because of meat trade. We aimed to examine the impact of red and processed meat trade on diet-related NCDs and to identify which countries are particularly vulnerable to diet-related NCDs due to red and processed meat trade.


By selecting 14 red meat and six processed meat items, we investigated bilateral meat trade flows across 154 countries. Then, we integrated health data and information on red and processed meat trade to quantify the country-specific burden of diet-related NCDs attributable to the meat trade using a comparative risk assessment framework.


Results show that global increases in red and processed meat trade contributed to the abrupt increase of diet-related NCDs, and the attributable burden of diet-related NCDs had large geographical variations among countries. We also identified responsible exporting countries that increase diet-related NCD risks in importing countries. Over the period from 1993 to 2018, island countries in the Caribbean and Oceania were particularly vulnerable to diet-related NCD incidents and mortality due to large meat imports. In addition, countries in Northern and Eastern Europe have exceedingly increased attributable death and disability-adjusted life year rates via meat imports.


Our findings suggest that both exporters and importers must urgently undertake cross-sectoral actions to reduce the meat trade’s health impacts. To prevent unintended health consequences due to red and processed meat trade, future interventions need to integrate health policies with agricultural and trade policies by cooperating with both responsible exporting and importing countries.




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