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OP42 Potential impacts of brexit on cardiovascular disease via changes to the price of fruits and vegetables: a modelling analysis
  1. S Seferidi1,
  2. AA Laverty1,
  3. J Pearson-Stuttard1,2,
  4. M Guzman-Castillo2,
  5. B Collins2,
  6. S Capewell2,
  7. M O’Flaherty2,
  8. C Millett1
  1. 1Public Health Policy Evaluation Unit, School of Public Health, Imperial College London, London, UK
  2. 2Department of Public Health and Policy, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, UK


Background The UK’s decision to exit the European Union will likely affect its current trade regimes. Trade policy can alter food commodity availability and price; it is thus a potentially powerful determinant of food environments and subsequently health. The UK is highly dependent on its fruit and vegetable (F&V) imports. Brexit could therefore affect F&V price and consumption in the UK. Given the strong association between F&V intake and cardiovascular disease (CVD), our analysis aimed to quantify the potential effects of F&V price changes due to Brexit on CVD in English adults between 2020–2030.

Methods We used the previously validated IMPACT Food Policy Model. The model combined publicly available data on F&V trade, published estimates of UK-specific price elasticities, F&V intake data from the National Diet and Nutrition Survey, and coronary heart disease (CHD) mortality projections for 2020–2030. We estimated the number of CHD deaths and life-years lost between 2020–2030 among English adults aged 25 years and above as a consequence of five Brexit scenarios: (1) Transitional Brexit; (2) post-Brexit Free Trading Agreement with the EU and maintaining half of the non-EU free trade partners; (3) post-Brexit Free Trading Agreement with the EU but no trade deal with any non-EU countries; (4) post-Brexit liberalised trade regime; (5) no deal Brexit. We then performed Monte-Carlo simulations to better estimate uncertainty of inputs.

Results Under all Brexit scenarios, prices of F&V are likely to increase on average between 1.8% and 7.8%. The banana, citrus fruit, and tomato markets are likely to be the most disrupted, with price increases up to approximately 16.7%, 14.3%, and 13.4% respectively. A transitional Brexit is likely to result in approximately 670 (95% Uncertainty Interval: 430–980) extra CHD deaths and 6370 (4,360–8,990) life-years lost. A liberalised regime which eliminates all import tariffs is likely to contribute approximately 940 (600–1,370) additional CHD deaths and 8870 (6,060–12,540) life-years lost, due to non-tariff trade barriers between the UK and the EU. A no-deal Brexit scenario might be the most harmful, generating approximately 2900 (1,820–4,310) extra CHD deaths and 27 440 (18,200–39,630) life-years lost between 2020–2030.

Conclusion This analysis suggested that under all modelled scenarios Brexit is likely to increase the price of F&V and thus have a detrimental effect on the future diet and health of English adults. The UK government should therefore aim to secure a post-Brexit food system that incentivises the UK population to purchase and consume healthy foods.

  • fruits and vegetables
  • Brexit
  • cardiovascular disease

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