By Thierry Malleret, economist
By Thierry Malleret, economist

1. New Medical Evidence Shows Link Between Nutrition and Cognition

A significant amount of scientific progress is currently being made about understanding the link between nutrition and cognition. What was intuitively known is increasingly corroborated by research: we can now ascertain what sort of food improves child behavior and academic performance, and equally, combats mental decline amongst elderly people. This new research suggests that vending machines selling snacks high in sugar, saturated fats and sodium should be removed from schools. This is also true in old age: fructose, the sugar most commonly used in processed foods, seems to enhance many pathways related to Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.

2. Mexico Innovating in the Campaign against Obesity

Mexico is now de facto paying its citizens to fight obesity! The government has just announced that any citizen can receive a tax rebate that matches the cost of seeing a nutritionist or psychologist in an effort to reduce obesity. In short, nutrition advice is now tax-deductible. Mexicans have a high, widespread level of obesity, yet the country has always been at the forefront of the fight against it. The success (or otherwise) of this new measure will be interesting to follow, and if it does work, whether it is emulated elsewhere.

3. The Fight to Protect Air Quality and Reduce Pollution

In January, there were numerous peaks in air pollution levels both in Asia and Europe. As concerns about (and research into) air pollution grow in intensity, the health and economic benefits of cleaner air are becoming more and more evident. Reducing air pollution can impose a cost on some industries like transportation, mining, and energy, but after taking into consideration healthcare costs and the effects of lower pollution on productivity, the economic benefits of reduced pollution become apparent. This is particularly true for the wellness industry: wellness cannot thrive in a polluted environment.

4. The War against Sugar will Intensify

For all the reasons mentioned above (cognitive abilities, the global fight against obesity, etc.) the “war” against sugar will ramp up. As argued in a recent article, science cannot prove (yet?) that sugar kills, and the industry denies it, but the impact of sugar on our health will be one of this year’s big stories.

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