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How Health Data and Insights Can Shape Government Policy

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As life expectancy increases around the world, governments are under pressure to provide for ageing populations and to tackle rising health issues such as obesity or certain diseases. Our recent Strategy Briefing, Why Population Insights Matter for Business Strategy, focuses on health and wellbeing as one of the key population themes. Global healthy life expectancy at birth will reach 65.7 years in 2030 although there will be a 9 year gap in the average between developed and emerging countries. Longevity coincides with an increase in age-related health concerns, while the expansion of the middle class in emerging countries and rapid urbanisation rates have resulted in dietary changes (such as higher rates of meat consumption), greater intake of convenience food and more sedentary lifestyles.

Analysis of health trends can shape government policy decisions especially when using forecast data to see how trends will develop or to identify vulnerable groups in a society. Governments can use these insights to prepare for changes to the labour force, formulate social care policy to deal with the growing number of older people or an increasing old-age dependency ratio, budget in terms of government finances given the increasing stress on public health or pensions, while health institutions can also be better equipped for the health shifts occurring. In some cases, government policy decisions will also feed through to impact consumer markets if companies are required to adapt to new regulations for their products or services.

Mexico case study

Mexico is an example of a country where the government has adapted government policy in order to tackle a health problem, with a direct impact on consumer goods:

  • Mexico has one of the world’s worst obesity problems, with the obese population (BMI 30kg/sq m or more) set to grow in 2017-2030, reaching nearly 50.0% of the female population aged 15+ by 2030. As a result, diabetes prevalence will remain a challenge;
  • High consumption of sugary drinks resulted in the government imposing a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages in 2014. As forecasts project that waistlines will continue to expand, growing health-consciousness, in line with government regulations, will raise demand for healthier alternatives;
  • Mexico is Coca-Cola’s third largest market for soft drinks, with cola carbonates the top category. Bottled water and sports drinks are less mature than the carbonates market but offer good prospects for Coca-Cola in the future, alongside light, sugar-free or re-formulated carbonates. Healthy benefits are expected to be a key driver of the soft drinks industry in Mexico in the next five years. In 2016, for example, Coca Cola Mexico launched smaller bottles and slimmer cans highlighting less than 100 calories.

Source: Euromonitor International Competitor Analytics Model

Similarly, governments can use health data to help guide decisions on other sectors which have direct implications for consumer health including tobacco, alcoholic drinks and fast food, ranging from industry and consumer taxation policies to product labelling and packaging.

Consumer goods companies will need to adapt to government regulations or stay one step ahead by responding to health trends themselves and adjusting products to meet changing consumer demand.

Find out more about Why Population Insights Matter for Business Strategy in our Strategy Briefing here.

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