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How can we make the world a healthier place? Learn how to improve global health with these five findings 

Global health is a complex and dynamic field that affects the lives and well-being of billions of people. In this article, we will introduce five key insights that emerged from Imperial College Business School’s recent research on and analysis of global health issues.  

These insights reveal some of the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead for improving health outcomes and reducing health disparities around the world. They also highlight the importance of interdisciplinary and collaborative approaches to address the social, economic, environmental and behavioural factors that influence health. 

1. COVID-19 widened inequalities in healthcare 

The COVID-19 pandemic affected hospital care for millions across England, but people living in the nation’s poorest areas and those from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic backgrounds experienced the most disruption to hospital care from cancelled and delayed hospital appointments. 

2. Positive health interventions are sometimes hard to sustain 

The school food environment plays an important role in children’s consumption patterns, but, according to one study, only a quarter of potential ways to reduce BMI and increase fruit intake were able to deliver sustained improvements. 

3. Health taxes need to change behaviour, not just bring in money 

Traditional taxes on tobacco, alcohol and sugary drinks are not enough to address the health and environmental problems caused by consumption; governments should use tax to prompt changes in behaviour, and to offer individuals a visible and powerful incentive to alter what they consume. 

4. People are willing to travel for sugary drinks 

When Philadelphia implemented a tax on sweetened beverages sold within city limits, sales of those drinks fell by 46 per cent – but stores less than six miles outside the city saw a noticeable increase in the sale of sweetened sodas. 

5. Changing how we make everyday foods could improve the health of entire populations 

Reformulating processed foods by changing their nutrient content to make them healthier can lead to a decline in population salt intakes of 0.57g per day and decreases in trans-fatty acids of 40–80 per cent. Targeting everyday foods would stop people switching to less healthy alternatives. 

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