Globalization and the Effect on Nutrition


Globalization is the process by which there is integration of culture, politics and economies of nations all over the world, facilitated by trade, transport and information technology. It is a powerful force for economic development and interaction of entities of various countries often facilitated by international trade and accelerated by information technology (Bożyk 2006). The globalization process often affects various aspects such as environmental, cultural, political or economic growth as well as the overall welfare of people in different nations worldwide. The contemporary “wave of globalization” has resulted from local and international policies through adoption free market, which has enhanced nation’s productive power and creations of many opportunities. Trade barriers have been removed through establishment of international agreements to facilitate trade and investment through utilizing foreign markets.

General Advantages and Disadvantages of Globalization

To sum it all, the advantages of globalization include market integration in that there is inter-connecting of markets such as that of EU (Bożyk 2006). Cheaper products are also available to consumers and outsourcing is also facilitated. The international trade barriers are lessened while there is creation of jobs for developing nations, which help in economic growth. Moreover, globalization is essential in curbing market saturation in that competitors are reduced in a certain region. Goods and individuals can move at ease and quicker from one region to another and reduces the world into a global village. A global village encourages multiculturalism and cultural diversity as a result of assimilation of hybridization as immigration increases facilitating cultural diffusion. There is increase of interdependency among nations, which may help in reducing internal conflicts within a country. International legal codes are adopted to deal with issue of patency, international trade agreements and copyright regulations (Bożyk 2006). The role of IT cannot be overlooked in the globalization since it has acted as the main driver. Technological advancements have altered the economic climate through consumers, investments and commerce to come up with new opportunities and quicker analysis.

However, with all its advantages, globalization has been criticized as a cause of impoverishment in the developing world since the free market work to the advantage of multinational corporations, which exploit the local culture and businesses of the natives. Besides, it has been attributed with the environmental degradation, and oppression of human rights. The disadvantages may include extreme competition and may enhance the gap that exists for the wealthy and the impoverished. Besides, the small businesses are suppressed by the multinational corporations such that they cannot become established. There results to worker’s exploitation while the income extracted from local nations is taken by the foreign nations, which have invested (Bożyk 2006).

Globalization and the Effect on Nutrition

On nutrition, globalization enhances product standardization where even the developing world can enjoy the products such as the coca cola products, McDonalds among others. Globalization debates on nutrition revolve around the issue of Genetically Modified Foods (GMF). Nutrition is very essential in the global market and raises several consumer concerns since it is associated with people’s health, environment, social aspects and overall welfare. Therefore, there has been a need for increased standards across the world (Swinnen & Vandemoortele 2008). Conversely, there have been constant fears of having to import contaminated foodstuff thus, this has raised the protectionist eyebrows, which has in turn resulted to imposing strict food standards. The standards vary with nations especially those existing between the wealthy and poor nations. This is so because their preferences are different since their developmental growth and income varies. Moreover, the culture and geographical differences are paramount in the standards’ trend but the real trends may not be socially optimal. Consequently as tariff barriers are dropped through trade agreement, standards are more adopted as a non-tariff trade barrier as reflected in the case of GMFs whose standards are applied to restrict imports. Agri-foods radically change in, quantity, form, appeal, availability and affordability of food due to shift in procurement as well as distribution. This has changed the food culture i.e. nutritional value and dietary patterns depending on socio-economic status (Swinnen & Vandemoortele 2008).

Nutrition transition is evident where there is a notable shift in nutrition as foods are now consumed with more fats and sugars in the developing nations while cereals, fruits as well as vegetable consumption has declined. As a result, there is increase in obesity and chronic illnesses linked to eating habits such as heart problems and diabetes. In developing nations, many individuals lose their life as a result, compared to the developed world. Foods of low quality leads to nutrition deficiencies, the immune system become depressed and infectious diseases attacks (Hawkes 2006). This is implicated to the globalization process in which lifestyle changes and income changes are evident while such foods are put at their disposal. Therefore, analyzing the connection between nutrition transition and that of globalization is essential to determine the policies to be put forward such as food policies to manage the worldwide issues of chronic diseases. However evaluating the dietary changes and connecting it to globalization is a challenging task (Hawkes 2006).

For market integration in relation to dietary patterns, the important aspects to be highlighted includes “production and trade of agricultural goods; foreign direct investment in food processing and retailing; and global food advertising and promotion” (Hawkes 2006 pr. 2). These are vital feature of food supply chain facilitated by transnational food companies thus, having a direct influence on nutrition. They also have engaged in highly-processed food consumed especially by the rich. Besides, they change parameters of local food market while triggering competition and subduing the production, thus affecting the food market through creation of cultural identity.

Agricultural growth and trade policies have seen more use of vegetable oil, processed food products with respect to socio-economic status and culture. The integration of global market has revealed great competitive potential, which is attributed to convergence in dietary patterns for instance in the coca cola consumption and most importantly in embracing to stuff meant for a diverse niche marketplace. As a result there is “convergence-divergence duality raises the policy concern that globalization will exacerbate uneven dietary development between rich and poor. As high-income groups in developing countries accrue the benefits of a more dynamic marketplace, lower-income groups may well experience convergence towards poor quality obseogenic diets, as observed in western countries” (Hawkes 2006 pr. 4). World economic policies regarding farming, ventures, marketing as well as trade dictates the global eating patterns and comprises of food and health policies in the world. It is the role of policy makers to evaluate these aspects to determine structural basis of obesity as other chronic illnesses related to diet particularly for those of declined socio-economic background.

Nutritional issues are recognized under a spectrum of under and over nutrition affected differently by globalization processes, which may deal with under-nutrition thorough increasing income and enhancing food affordability, but through this over-nutrition, may arise. Besides, the processes may deal with both cases through diversifying food stuff or may destroy through inequality and exclusiveness through provision of healthy diet particularly to the wealthy.

Globalization is therefore a forceful course of global shifts and domestic differentiation. Nutrition wise, it is a dietary convergence “ relying on a thin ground of staple grains, increased consumption of meat and meat products, dairy products, edible oil, salt and sugar, and a lower intake of dietary fiber” (Hawkes 2006 pr. 12). This is asserted by Food and Agriculture Organization, which indicates that nations with more integration in the global economy have had basic stuff converged particularly facilitated by income and cost.additionally, dietary adaptation is “increased consumption of brand-name processed and store-bought food, an increased number of meals eaten outside the home and consumer behaviors driven by the appeal of new foods available” (Hawk 2006 pr.12). This is facilitated by demands, more contact to advertising, accessibility of emerging stuff and that of retail foodstuff outlets.


The process of globalization has led to many advantages, which cannot be overlooked. In nutrition, it has enabled the provision of standardized food products even to those nations which could be unavailable. However, in nutrition, globalization has also led to nutritional transitions. As a result, labeling on the nutritional value of food stuff is essential for consumers to choose although this may solely advantage the groups aware of the need to uphold nutritional standards, thus inequality. Additionally, advertising food and promoting it should be regulated. This could prove essential in altering food patterns not to mention the overall health through advocating for healthy food.

List of References

Bożyk, P., 2006. Globalization and the Transformation of Foreign Economic Policy. London: Ashgate Publishing, Ltd.

Hawkes, C., 2006. “Uneven dietary development: linking the policies and processes of globalization with the nutrition transition, obesity and diet-related chronic diseases.” Globalization and Health 2006, 2:4.

Swinnen, J. F. and Vandemoortele, T., 2008. “The Political Economy of Nutrition and Health Standards in Food Markets.” Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, Volume 30, Issue3 Pp. 460-468. Web.

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