MARSEILLE, France , June 8, 2022 /CNW/ — Over just a few decades, obesity has become the public enemy for wealthy and developing countries alike. Third-world nations saw their overweight rate triple since the late 1980s, which happened to coincide with their growing place within global trade.
Between 1988 and 2012, the rate of obesity among Mexican women increased from 10% to 30%. At the same time, Mexico entered a period of greater economic liberalization by signing the NAFTA trade pact with the United States and Canada. This led many experts to examine the link between globalization and health issues related to food.
According to the economists Osea Giuntella, Matthias Rieger, and Lorenzo Rotunno, the arrival of American products onto the Mexican market accounts for up to 20% of the increase in obesity among Mexican women.
Since the NAFTA trade pact was signed in 1994, American exports (particularly in food products) to Mexico has soared. In 2012, American food products (of both food and beverage) represented 75% of all Mexican imports. This equaled to 8% of all Mexican household spending—compared to 2% in 1989! These numbers make the United States the number one provider of food products to Mexico and a heavy hitter in the dietary habits of the country’s population.
Their analysis goes beyond the situation with Mexico. Their results demonstrate a causal link between trade and obesity, and they lead us to reflect on how globalization could negatively affect health. In this context, trade policies can influence a population’s food quality, transform its habits, and finally impact its health. So, the question arises: can we continue to allow players to enter the global trade market while protecting people’s health as well as the environment?
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