Low and middle income countries are the recent targets of processed food manufacturers

June 26, 2012

"There is significant penetration by multinational processed food manufacturers such as Nestle, Kraft, PepsiCo, and Danone into food environments in low-and-middle income countries, where consumption of unhealthy commodities is reaching—and in some cases exceeding—a level presently observed in high income countries", according to international researchers writing in this week's PLoS Medicine.

The authors from the UK, US, and India (led by David Stuckler from the University of Cambridge), analysed trends in unhealthy food and beverages (sugary drinks and processed foods that are high in salt, fat, and sugar), alcohol, and tobacco commodities by reviewing market data on sales covering 80 countries between 1997 and 2010 with forecasts to the year 2016.

The authors found that not only is the rate of increase in of ''unhealthy commodities'' fastest in low-and but the pace at which consumption is rising in these countries is even faster than has occurred historically in high income countries. Furthermore, multinational companies have now achieved a level of penetration of food markets in middle-income countries similar to what they have achieved in high income countries.

In their analysis, the authors also found that higher intake of unhealthy foods correlates strongly with higher tobacco and alcohol sales, suggesting a set of common tactics by industries producing unhealthy commodities. And while rising income has been strongly associated with higher consumption of unhealthy commodities within countries and over time, the authors found that economic growth does not inevitably lead to higher unhealthy-commodity consumption as high foreign direct investment and free-trade agreements also play a role.

The authors argue that with the global rise of transnational food and drink companies there is a clear need to focus on the role of global producers in manufacturing and marketing the unhealthy commodities implicated in the epidemics of non-communicable diseases—conditions such as coronary heart disease and diabetes.

The authors say: "Until health practitioners, researchers, and politicians are able to understand and identify feasible ways to address the social, economic, and political conditions that lead to the spread of unhealthy food, beverage, and tobacco , progress in areas of prevention and control of non-communicable diseases will remain elusive."

Explore further: Sexually transmitted infections in adolescents in countries of all incomes remain great concern

More information: Stuckler D, McKee M, Ebrahim S, Basu S (2012) Manufacturing Epidemics: The Role of Global Producers in Increased Consumption of Unhealthy Commodities Including Processed Foods, Alcohol, and Tobacco. PLoS Med 9(6): e1001235. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001235

Related Stories

Sexually transmitted infections in adolescents in countries of all incomes remain great concern

April 24, 2012
In a Comment linked to The Lancet Series on Adolescent Health, Professor Robert W Blum (Chair of the Department of Population, Family, and Reproductive Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD) ...

Canada should play a role in addressing the global cancer epidemic: researchers

April 10, 2012
Cancer is a growing health concern in low- and middle-income countries, and there is an opportunity for Canada to make a significant contribution to help tackle the disease, states an analysis in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association ...

The truth about advertising junk food to children: It works

May 10, 2011
(Medical Xpress) -- Children exposed to advertisements for high-calorie and nutrient-poor foods consume more unhealthy foods overall, regardless of the specific product and brand being marketed, finds a new study from the ...

Government-led efforts targeting eating habits of children needed to curb worldwide obesity epidemic

August 26, 2011
The global obesity epidemic has been escalating for decades, yet long-term prevention efforts have barely begun and are inadequate, according to a new paper from international public health experts published in the August ...

20 percent 'fat tax' needed to improve population health: experts

May 15, 2012
Taxes on unhealthy food and drinks would need to be at least 20% to have a significant effect on diet-related conditions such as obesity and heart disease, say experts in the British Medical Journal today. Ideally, this should ...

Recommended for you

Breathing dirty air may harm kidneys, study finds

September 21, 2017
Outdoor air pollution has long been linked to major health conditions such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. A new study now adds kidney disease to the list, according to ...

Excess dietary manganese promotes staph heart infection

September 21, 2017
Too much dietary manganese—an essential trace mineral found in leafy green vegetables, fruits and nuts—promotes infection of the heart by the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus ("staph").

Being active saves lives whether a gym workout, walking to work or washing the floor

September 21, 2017
Physical activity of any kind can prevent heart disease and death, says a large international study involving more than 130,000 people from 17 countries published this week in The Lancet.

Frequent blood donations safe for some, but not all

September 21, 2017
(HealthDay)—Some people may safely donate blood as often as every eight weeks—but that may not be a healthy choice for all, a new study suggests.

Higher manganese levels in children correlate with lower IQ scores, study finds

September 21, 2017
A study led by environmental health researchers at the University of Cincinnati (UC) College of Medicine finds that children in East Liverpool, Ohio with higher levels of Manganese (Mn) had lower IQ scores. The research appears ...

One e-cigarette with nicotine leads to adrenaline changes in nonsmokers' hearts

September 20, 2017
A new UCLA study found that healthy nonsmokers experienced increased adrenaline levels in their heart after one electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) with nicotine but there were no increased adrenaline levels when the study ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.