Consuming Forage Fish Instead of Red Meat Could Cut Disease Burden Globally

In HealthDay News
by Healthday

Benefits include cutting prevalence of disability, death as a result of diet-related disease

By Lori Solomon HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, April 11, 2024 (HealthDay News) — Forage fish (e.g., herring, sardines, and anchovies) are a promising alternative to red meat, according to a study published online April 9 in BMJ Global Health.

Shujuan Xia, from the National Institute for Environmental Studies in Tsukuba, Japan, and colleagues examined the impact of replacing red meat with forage fish in the global diet on diet-related noncommunicable diseases. The analysis included datasets of red meat projections in 2050 for 137 countries and forage fish catches.

The researchers found that forage fish may replace only a fraction (approximately 8 percent) of the world’s red meat due to its limited supply, but it may increase global daily per-capita fish consumption close to the recommended level. This substitution could avoid 0.5 to 0.75 million deaths and 8 to 15 million disability-adjusted life years, primarily in low- and middle-income countries. By reducing red meat consumption with forage fish as an alternative, the number of deaths avoided could at least double.

“This study points to the need for fish-based food policy guidelines and nutrition-sensitive policies to pay more attention to the composition of future fish intake and to promote forage fish consumption,” the authors write.

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