Depending on the outcome of Brexit, thousands of extra deaths from cardiovascular disease and strokes may occur in Britain over the next decade, a study in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) reports. With Britain heavily dependent on fruit and vegetable imports, the study, by the Imperial College of London, reveals that reduced availability and rising prices could result in approximately 12,400 additional cardiovascular disease (CVD) deaths by 2030.

Brexit, the impending exit of the UK from the European Union, has great potential to produce detrimental implications for many sectors of the country’s economy. This has sparked many studies attempting to forecast the fate of the UK; however, few studies have analyzed the impact of Brexit on citizens’ health with large changes occurring to both the healthcare and consumer sectors. Researchers at the Imperial College of London used the IMPACT food policy model, a tool that incorporates qualitative and quantitative economic and health data to estimate the potential impacts of the different Brexit outcomes.

The UK is heavily dependent on fruit (84%) and vegetable (48%) imports, with the IMPACT model predicting a projected 14–17% price increase and a 9–11% availability decrease by 2030. Considering fruit and vegetables are a crucial part of a healthy diet, calculations factoring in these changes predicted that an extra 12,400 cardiovascular disease deaths will be the outcome, which is approximately a 2% overall rise from the current mortality rate.

Unless upcoming negotiations consider all the implications of Brexit, a halt to the free movement permitted under EU single-market rules will bring public health consequences to Britain long after the official parting from the EU on March 29th, 2019.