Telecoupled impacts of livestock trade on non-communicable diseases
Globalization and Health, 2019
Min Gon Chung and Jianguo Liu
Non-communicable diseases (NCDs)—chronic human health problems such as cardiovascular diseases linked to poor diets—are significant challenges for sustainable development and human health. The international livestock trade increases accessibility to cheap animal products that may expand diet-related NCDs worldwide. However, it is not well understood how the complex interconnections among livestock production, trade, and consumption affect NCD risks around the world.
Method: Our global dataset included 33 livestock products (meat, offal, and animal fats) in 156 countries from 1992 to 2011. We employed path analysis to uncover how livestock trade contributes to diet-related NCDs and identify underlying environmental and socioeconomic factors of livestock trade. Then we performed trend analyses to investigate long-term changes in livestock production and trade at a country level.
Results: We found that livestock consumption through livestock import increased diet-related NCD risks. This was especially true in developing countries, which in general were not well prepared in terms of policies for NCD risk reduction, and where there was a lack of funding to implement the policies. Population size and income level were the main factors affecting global livestock import activities.
Conclusions: Our results suggest that new governance structures to incorporate separate international efforts, improved national policies, and bolstering individual efforts are needed to decrease NCD risks, particularly in developing countries.