Climate change and health effects
Healthy diets play a key role in the prevention of cardiovascular diseases, cancer, diabetes and other non-communicable diseases. At present, the nutrition transition from traditional diets to “western” diets including more processed, energy dense, and unhealthy food is a larger threat to the health of Arctic populations, than is the potential increase in environmental contaminants following global warming.
This assumption is in line with the findings in the EU-funded project CLEAR (Climate change, Environmental contaminants and Reproductive health). Global climate change scenarios on chemical fate and transport showed that the effects on contaminant distribution were modelled to be relatively low, and that changes in human behaviour were more influential for human exposure than were changes to the physical environment (Armitage et al., 2011;Quinn et al., 2012).
ArcRisk model results project that PCB concentrations by 2100 should be far below present levels. Thus, in terms of human exposure, the climate change effect can be considered of minor[PC1] importance[S2] . For mercury, climate change is expected to alter some of the basic transport and transformation processes within the mercury cycle and the projections for mercury in Arctic foodstuffs are uncertain.
Future risk of dietary contaminant exposure in the Arctic will, however, depend to a large degree on changes in diet and food supply. The results from ArcRisk show that based on current predictors of contaminant exposure, the influence of climate change on future contaminant exposure will to a large degree depend on the consumption of fish and other seafood.
In the Arctic, future dietary exposure to contaminants may be influenced by climate change-related alterations in the distribution and availability of traditional foods, such as seals and fish, which cannot be predicted at this time. However, an even greater change will probably occur through the ongoing shift from traditional foods to a nutritionally poorer market-based diet.
Healthy diets play a key role in the prevention of cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes and other non-communicable diseases. At present, the nutritional transition from traditional diets to ‘western’ diets including more processed, energy-dense, and unhealthy food is a larger threat to the health of Arctic populations than the potential increase in environmental contaminants following global warming.