Integrating climate change, food prices and population health
The inter-related nature of food, health and climate change requires a better understanding of the linkages and a greater alignment of policy across these issues to be able to adequately meet the pressing social and health challenges arising from climate change. Food price is one way through which climate change may affect health. The aim of this study of the global and Australian food systems is to provide a whole-of-system analysis of food price vulnerabilities, highlighting the key pressure points across the food system through which climate change could potentially have the greatest impact on consumer food prices and the implications for population health. We outline areas where there are particular vulnerabilities for food systems and food prices arising from climate change, particularly global commodity prices; agricultural productivity; short term supply shocks; and less direct factors such as input costs and government policies. We use Australia as a high-income country case study to consider these issues in more detail. The complex and dynamic nature of pricing mechanisms makes it difficult to predict precisely how prices will be impacted. Should prices rise disproportionately among healthy foodstuffs compared to less healthy foods there may be adverse health outcomes if less expensive and less healthy foods are substituted. Higher prices will also have equity implications with lower socio-economic groups most impacted given these households currently spend proportionately more of their weekly income on food. The ultimate objective of this research is to identify the pathways through the food system via which climate change may affect food prices and ultimately population health, thereby providing evidence for food policy which takes into account environmental and health considerations.
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