Graduation Year


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Roberto Pedace

Reader 2

Andrew Schroeder

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Rights Information

© 2016 Alley Bellack


Noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) are the most prominent cause of adult mortality, killing 38 million people each year and on the rise[1]. Cancer, heart disease, diabetes and chronic respiratory diseases are responsible for 82% of NCD-related illness and death. These four diseases, along with mental illness, are estimated to cost the developing world $21 trillion over the next two decades.[2]

Given the substantial health and economic detriments of NCDs, policy makers, government officials, and enterprises around the globe have begun to focus efforts on better understanding and preventing the proliferation of these diseases. Lifestyle factors, including increased inactivity, poor diet, and alcohol and tobacco consumption are currently the most commonly attributed risk factors of NCDs.

With the influx of epidemiological literature linking meat consumption to western disease prevalence, and the World Health Organization (WHO) releasing a statement this year classifying processed meat as a Group 1 carcinogen alongside cigarette smoking, this thesis seeks to understand more thoroughly the role of diet, specifically meat consumption, in the incidence of cancer, heart disease and diabetes around the world.

This paper analyzes previous epidemiological studies on dietary consumption and disease incidence as well as conducts an empirical analysis of data from the WHO and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) to understand the relationship between meat consumption and disease prominence. This paper is the first of its kind to compare country-level data on dietary and lifestyle factors with respective disease incidence and mortality rates in order to observe the impact of country consumption trends on health outcomes. The results of this analysis may provide insight into global economic, health policy and individual-level consumption recommendations in order to mitigate the occurrence of ill-health.

Included in

Economics Commons