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Jensen, Henning Tarp, Keogh-Brown, Marcus R., Shankar, Bhavani, Aekplakorn, Wichai, Basu, Sanjay, Cuevas, Soledad, Dangour, Alan D., Gheewala, Shabbir H., Green, Rosemary, Joy, Edward JM, Rojroongwasinkul, Nipa, Thaiprasert, Nalitra and Smith, Richard D. (2019) 'International trade, dietary change, and cardiovascular disease health outcomes: Import tariff reform using an integrated macroeconomic, environmental and health modelling framework for Thailand.' SSM - Population Health, 9 (100435).

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United Nations (UN) member states have, since 2011, worked to address the emerging global NCD crisis, but progress has, so far, been insufficient. Food trade policy is recognised to have the potential to impact certain major diet-related health and environmental outcomes. We study the potential for using import tariff protection as a health and environmental policy instrument. Specifically, we apply a rigorous and consistent Macroeconomic-Environmental-Demographic-health (MED-health) simulation model framework to study fiscal food policy import tariffs and dietary change in Thailand over the future 20 year period 2016-2035. We find that the existing Thai tariff structure, by lowering imports, lowers agricultural Land Use Change (LUC)-related GHG emissions and protects against cholesterol-related cardiovascular disease (CVD). This confirms previous evidence that food trade, measured by import shares of food expenditures and caloric intakes, is correlated with unhealthy eating and adverse health outcomes among importing country populations. A continued drive towards tariff liberalization and economic efficiency in Thailand may therefore come at the expense of reduced health and environmental sustainability of food consumption and production systems. Due to large efficiency losses, the existing tariff structure is, however, not cost-effective as an environmental or health policy instrument. However, additional simulations confirm that stylized 30% food sector import tariffs generally improve nutritional, clinical health, demographic, and environmental indicators across the board. We also find that diet-related health improvements can go hand-in-hand with increased Saturated Fatty Acid (SFA) intakes. Despite limited cost-effectiveness, policy makers from Thailand and abroad, including WHO, would therefore be well advised to consider targeted fiscal food policy tariffs as a potential intervention to maintain combined health and environmental sustainability, and to reconsider the specification of WHO dietary guidelines with their focus on SFA intake (rather than composition of fatty acid intake) targets.

Item Type: Journal Article
SOAS Departments & Centres: Departments and Subunits > Interdisciplinary Studies > Centre for Development, Environment and Policy
ISSN: 23528273
Copyright Statement: © 2019 The Authors. This is an open access article under the CC BY license (
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 07 Aug 2019 14:49
Funders: Wellcome Trust

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