Manufacturing Epidemics: The Role of Global Producers in Increased Consumption of Unhealthy Commodities Including Processed Foods, Alcohol, and Tobacco
The rate of increase in consumption of “unhealthy commodities” (soft drinks and processed foods that are high in salt, fat, and sugar, as well as tobacco and alcohol) is fastest in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), with little or no further growth expected in high-income countries (HICs).
The pace at which consumption is rising in LMICs is even faster than has occurred historically in HICs.
Multinational companies have now achieved a level of penetration of food markets in middle-income countries similar to what they have achieved in HICs.
Higher intake of unhealthy foods correlates strongly with higher tobacco and alcohol sales, suggesting a set of common tactics by industries producing unhealthy commodities.
Contrary to findings from studies undertaken several decades ago, urbanization no longer seems to be a strong risk factor for greater consumption of risky commodities at the population level, with the exception of soft drinks.
Rising income has been strongly associated with higher consumption of unhealthy commodities within countries and over time, but mainly when there are high foreign direct investment and free-trade agreements.
Economic growth does not inevitably lead to higher unhealthy-commodity consumption.