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Brexit could cause an extra 5,600 deaths through diet change

A hard Brexit, where the UK trades with other nations on the terms and tariffs set out by the World Trade Organisation after leaving the European Union, could cause an additional 5,600 deaths in the UK, mainly due to reduced consumption of fruits, vegetables and nuts, according to a working paper published by the Oxford Martin School.

Researchers simulated the effects of increased trade costs and resultant changes in diet after the UK leaves the European Union. The increases in mortality in the hard Brexit scenario could cause additional healthcare-related expenditure of £600 million.

A soft Brexit scenario (where there are no additional trading tariffs but where there are increased customs checks relative to today, as well as regulatory divergences between the UK and European Union) could still cause an additional 2,700 deaths and cause an additional £290 million of healthcare-related expenditure.

Read the full paper, “The impacts of Brexit on agricultural trade, food consumption, and diet-related mortality in the UK”, here (PDF link). See also the Foodsource resource How are food systems and health connected and influenced?

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Europe is the world's second-smallest continent by surface area, covering just over 10 million square kilometres or 6.8% of the global land area, but it is the third-most populous continent after Asia and Africa, with a population of around 740 million people or about 11% of the world's population. Its climate is heavily affected by warm Atlantic currents that temper winters and summers on much of the continent. In the European Union, farmers represent only 4.7% of the working population, yet manage nearly half of its land area.

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