No-deal Brexit could lead to thousands of extra UK cardio deaths

Academics warn fruit and vegetable intake will fall due to higher prices on food imports

An Asda in south London. Photograph: Justin Tallis/AFP/Getty Images

An Asda in south London. Photograph: Justin Tallis/AFP/Getty Images

 

Brexit could lead to more than 12,000 additional deaths from heart disease and stroke over the next decade due to higher fruit and vegetables prices, medical research suggests.

Researchers believe the British people will eat less fruit and vegetables owing to a sharp rise in food costs if the United Kingdom proceeds with Brexit on March 29th given the country is heavily dependence on food imports.

A no-deal Brexit would lead to the largest price increases, according to the research, published in the medical journal BMJ Open, which covers issues concerning public health, clinical medicine and epidemiology.

A hard Brexit “will be the costliest and most harmful, generating around 12,400 extra cardiovascular deaths over the next decade in England, as fruit and vegetable intake drops”, the online journal states.

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These additional deaths would occur between 2021 and 2030, equivalent to a rise of almost 2 per cent, according to the joint research by public health and medical academics from Imperial College London, the University of Liverpool and the University of Gdansk in Poland.

The journal said Britain relied on imports from overseas for 84 per cent of its fruit and 48 per cent of its vegetables in 2017, and the price of both is set to rise if the UK proceeds to exit the European Union.

Price of bananas

The researchers estimate that should the UK crash out of the EU without a deal, consumption of fruit and vegetables – already below recommended levels for half the UK’s population – would fall by a further 11.4 per cent and just over 9 per cent respectively.

The price of bananas would rise almost 17 per cent, tomatoes almost 15 per cent and citrus fruit more than 14 per cent due to increased tariffs and additional border check costs on imported goods.

Even allowing for a potential increase of 2 per cent in home-grown fruit and vegetable production did not substantially change estimates, the research found.

Fresh home-grown produce would likely reduce, pushing prices up further, due to post-Brexit immigration restrictions on thousands of seasonal workers from the EU who travel to the UK each year to harvest food.

“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 report states.

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