Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
×
Home

Is a healthy diet an environmentally sustainable diet?

  • Jennie I. Macdiarmid (a1)
Abstract

The concept of a healthy and environmentally sustainable diet is not new, but with increasing concern about future global food security and climate change there is a renewed interest in this topic. Dietary intakes in UK accounts for approximately 20–30% of total annual greenhouse gas emissions (GHGE), with the greatest contributions coming from high intakes of meat and dairy products. Dietary proposals to help mitigate climate change (i.e. reduce GHGE) have focused on reducing consumption of meat and dairy products, but this must be considered in the context of the whole diet, alongside any possible nutritional consequences for health. Bringing together health and environmental impact of the diet raises the question of whether a healthy diet can also be an environmentally sustainable diet. While recent research showed that it is possible to achieve a realistic diet that meets dietary requirement for health and has lower GHGE, it cannot be assumed that a healthy diet will always have lower GHGE. With different combinations of food it is possible to consume a diet that meets dietary requirements for health, but has high GHGE. It is important to understand what constitutes a sustainable diet, but this then needs to be communicated effectively to try and change well-established dietary intakes of the population. Studies show that understanding of sustainable diets is poor and there are many misconceptions (e.g. the overestimation of the protein requirements for a healthy diet), which could contribute to the barriers towards changing dietary intakes.

  • View HTML
    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure no-reply@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      Is a healthy diet an environmentally sustainable diet?
      Available formats
      ×
      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      Is a healthy diet an environmentally sustainable diet?
      Available formats
      ×
      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      Is a healthy diet an environmentally sustainable diet?
      Available formats
      ×
Copyright
Corresponding author
Corresponding author: Dr Jennie I. Macdiarmid, fax +44 1224 437285, email j.macdiarmid@abdn.ac.uk
References
Hide All
1. UK Cabinet Office Strategy Unit (2008) Food Matters: Towards a Strategy for the 21st Century. London: HM Government.
2. Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (2010) Food 2030. London: HM Government.
3. Foresight, The Future of Food and Farming (2011) Final Project Report. London: The Government Office for Science.
4. Sustainable Development Commission (2009) Setting the Table: Advice to Government on Priority Elements of Sustainable Diets. http://www.sd-commission.org.uk/data/files/publications/Setting_the_Table.pdf (accessed August 2012)
5. Gussow, J & Clancy, K (1986) Dietary guidelines for sustainability. J Nutr Educ 18, 15.
6. Anonymous (2005) The Giessen Declaration. Public Health Nutr 6A, 783786.
7. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (2010) International Scientific Symposium. Biodiversity and Sustainable Diets – United Against Hunger. Rome: FAO Headquarters.
8. Bates, B, Lennox, A, Bates, C et al. (2011) National Diet and Nutrition Survey: Headline Results from Years 1 and 2 (Combined) of the Rolling Programme 2008/09–2009/10. London: Department of Health.
9. Horsfield, G (2011) Family Spending: A Report on the 2010 Living Costs and Food Survey. London: UK Office for National Statistics.
10. Millward, D, Garnett, T (2010) Plenary Lecture 3: Food and the planet: nutritional dilemmas of greenhouse gas emission reductions through reduced intakes of meat and diary foods. Proc Nutr Soc 69, 103118.
11. Macdiarmid, JI, Kyle, J, Horgan, GW et al. (2012) Sustainable diets for the future: can we contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by eating a healthy diet? Am J Clin Nutr 96, 632639.
12. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (1990) Climate Change: The IPCC Scientific Assessment. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
13. United Nations (1998). Kyoto protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. United Nations http//unfcc.int/kyoto_protocol/items/2830.php (accessed November 2012).
14. Beddington, J (2009) Food, Energy, Water and the Climate: A Perfect Storm of Global Events? London, UK: Government Office for Science. http://www.bis.gov.uk/assets/goscience/docs/p/perfect-storm-paper.pdf (accessed August 2012)
15. HM Government (2008) Climate Change Act. London: HMSO.
16. Garnett, T (2008) Cooking Up a Storm: Food, Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Our Changing Climate. Surrey: University of Surrey, Food Climate Research Network, Centre for Environmental Strategy.
17. Audsley, E, Brander, M, Chatterton, J et al. (2009) How low can we go? An Assessment of Greenhouse Gas Emissions from the UK Food System and the Scope for Reduction by 2050. WWF-UK.
18. Vieux, F, Darmon, N, Touazi, D et al. (2012) Greenhouse gas emissions of self-selected individual diets in France: changing the diet structure or consuming less? Ecol Econ 75, 91101.
19. Wallen, A, Brandt, N & Wennersten, R (2004) Does the Swedish consumer's choice of food influence greenhouse gas emissions? Environ Sci Policy 7, 525535.
20. Macdiarmid, JI, Kyle, J, Horgan, G et al. (2011) Livewell: A Balance of Healthy and Sustainable Food Choices. WWF-UK.
21. Department of Health (1991) Dietary Reference Values for Food Energy and Nutrients for the United Kingdom. London, UK: HMSO.
22. Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (2001). Dietary Reference Values for Energy. London: The Stationery Office;http://www.sacn.gov.uk/pdfs/sacn_dietary_reference_values_for_energy.pdf (accessed August 2012).
23. Coley, D, Goodliffe, E & Macdiarmid, J (1998) The embodied energy of food: the role of diet. Energy Policy 26, 455459.
24. Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (2008) A Framework for Pro-environmental Behaviours. London: HMSO; http://archive.defra.gov.uk/evidence/social/behaviour/documents/behaviours-jan08-report.pdf. (accessed August 2012)
25. Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (2011) Attitudes and Behaviours around Sustainable Food Purchasing. Report (SERP 1011/10)
26. Lea, E & Worsley, A (2008) Australian consumers’ food-related environmental beliefs and behaviours. Appetite 50, 207214.
27. Tobler, C, Visschers, VH & Siegrist, M (2011) Eating green. Consumers’ willingness to adopt ecological food consumption behaviors. Appetite 57, 674682.
28. Lea, EJ, Crawford, D & Worsley, A (2006) Public views of the benefits and barriers to the consumption of a plant-based diet. Eur J Clin Nutr 60, 828837.
29. Schösler, H, de Boer, J & Boersema, JJ (2012) Can we cut out the meat of the dish? Constructing consumer-oriented pathways towards meat substitution. Appetite 58, 3947.
30. Fulgoni, VL (2008) Current protein intake in America: analysis of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Am J Clin Nutr 87, 1554S1557S.
31. International Food Information Council Foundation (2010) Food and Health Survey: Consumer Attitudes Toward Food Safety, Nutrition & Health. http://www.foodinsight.org/Content/3651/2010FinalFullReport.pdf (accessed August 2012)
32. Prior, G, Hall, L, Morris, S & Draper, A (2011) Exploring food Attitudes and Behaviours in the UK: Findings from the Food and You Survey 2010. Food Standards Agency. http://www.foodbase.org.uk//admintools/reportdocuments/641-1-1079_Food_and_You_Report_Main_Report_FINAL.pdf (accessed August 2012)
33. Chan, V, Eunson, J, Murray, L et al. (2012) Investigating How Both Consumers and Health Professionals Understand Healthy Eating Messages. Food Standards Agency Scotland. http://www.foodbase.org.uk//admintools/reportdocuments/753-1-1294_FS244029_1_Ipsos-_FINAL.pdf (accessed August 2012)
34. Berners-Lee, M, Hoolohan, C, Cammack, H et al. (2012) The relative greenhouse gas impacts of realistic dietary choices. Energy Policy 43, 184190.
35. Gryka, A, Broom, J & Rolland, C (2012) Global warming: is weight loss a solution? Int J Obes 36, 474476.
36. Egger, G (2008) Dousing our inflammatory environment(s): is personal carbon trading an option for reducing obesity and climate change? Obes Rev 9, 456563.
37. Edwards, P & Roberts, I (2009) Population adiposity and climate change. Int J Epidemiol 38, 11371140.
38. Michaelowa, A & Dransfeld, B (2006) Greenhouse Gas Benefits of Fighting Obesity. Hamburg Institute of International Economics (HWWI). http://www.hwwi.org/uploads/tx_wilpubdb/HWWI_Research_Paper_4-8.pdf (accessed August 2012)
39. Department of Health (2011) The Eatwell Plate. http://www.dh.gov.uk/en/Publichealth/Nutrition/DH_126493 (accessed August 2012)
40. Godfray, HCJ, Beddington, JR, Crute, IR et al. (2010) Food security: the challenge of feeding 9 billion people. Science 327, 812818.
41. Clonan, A, Holdsworth, M, Swift, J et al. (2011) The dilemma of healthy eating and environmental sustainability: the case of fish. Public Health Nutr 15, 277284.
42. Duchin, F (2005) Sustainable consumption of food: a framework for analyzing scenarios about changes in diets. J Industrial Ecology 9, 99114.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Proceedings of the Nutrition Society
  • ISSN: 0029-6651
  • EISSN: 1475-2719
  • URL: /core/journals/proceedings-of-the-nutrition-society
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Keywords

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed