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Brexit, trade and the governance of non-communicable diseases: a research agenda.

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Barlow, Pepita 
van Schalkwyk, May Ci 
Holden, Chris 


BACKGROUND: The UK's post-Brexit trade strategy has potentially important implications for population health and equity. In particular, it will impact on the structural risk factors for non-communicable diseases (NCDs), including the consumption of health-harming commodities such as tobacco, alcohol and ultra-processed food and beverages. This article catalogues recent developments in UK trade policy. It then presents a narrative review of the existing research literature on trade and health and previous, prospective studies on the health impacts of Brexit. In so doing it identifies key questions and foci for a future research agenda on the implications of UK's emerging trade regime for NCD prevention. MAIN TEXT: We identify five key areas for future research. (1) Additional scholarship to document the health effects of key trade agreements negotiated by the UK government; (2) The implications of these agreements for policy-making to address health impacts, including the potential for legal challenges under dispute settlement mechanisms; (3) The strategic objectives being pursued by the UK government and the extent to which they support or undermine public health; (4) The process of trade policy-making, its openness to public health interests and actors and the impact of the political and ideological legacy of Brexit on outcomes; (5) The impact of the UK's post-Brexit trade policy on partner countries and blocs and their cumulative impact on the global trade regime. CONCLUSIONS: Further research is urgently need to understand the ways in which the UK's post-Brexit trade strategy will impact on NCDs and policy responses to address these, including the openness of the trade policy architecture to health issues. The outcomes of this process will have wider systemic effects on the global trade regime with implications for health. Researchers must be cognizant of the ideological components of the policy debate which have been absent from previous analysis of Brexit, trade and health.



Brexit, Health, Industry, Non-communicable diseases, Policy-making, Trade, UK., Humans, Noncommunicable Diseases, European Union, Prospective Studies, United Kingdom, Beverages

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Global Health

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Springer Science and Business Media LLC
MRC (MC_UU_00006/7)
BH’s position is funded via the MRC Grant No MC_UU_00006/7. MVS is funded by an NIHR Doctoral Fellowship Award No NIHR3000156. Funding bodies played no role in the design or execution of the study.