Thousands of extra deaths from heart disease and stroke might become a reality in England over the next decade if Britain presses ahead with Brexit on March 29, reveals research published in BMJ Open.
With the United Kingdom heavily dependent on fruit and vegetable imports, reduced imports and rising prices could generate around 12,400 extra cardiovascular deaths (CVD) over the next decade in England, the study concludes.
Researchers led by Imperial College London used the IMPACT food policy model to estimate the potential impacts of 4 different Brexit scenarios. The model combined data on trade, national survey data on fruit and vegetable intake and estimates on the relationship between intake and CVD from published meta-analyses and CVD mortality projections.
Their calculations showed that a no-deal Brexit would lead to the greatest price hikes and the greatest decrease in dietary intake. The number of associated deaths from heart disease and stroke would rise for each Brexit scenario modelled, but a no-deal scenario would be the most harmful, contributing an extra 12,400 deaths between 2021 and 2030 - equivalent to a rise of nearly 2%.
"The UK government should therefore carefully consider the population health implications of Brexit during upcoming negotiations and post-Brexit planning, particularly adverse changes to food systems," the authors say.