Dietary changes needed to improve diet sustainability: are they similar across Europe?

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Dietary changes needed to improve diet sustainability: are they similar across Europe?

Eur J Clin Nutr. 2018 07;72(7):951-960

Authors: Vieux F, Perignon M, Gazan R, Darmon N

Abstract
BACKGROUND/OBJECTIVES: It is not known whether dietary changes able to simultaneously achieve nutritional adequacy and reduce diet-related greenhouse gas emissions (GHGE) are similar across Europe when cultural and gender specificities are taken into account.
SUBJECTS/METHODS: Starting from each mean observed diet in five European countries (France, UK, Italy, Finland, and Sweden) and for each gender, nutritionally adequate diets departing the least from observed diet were designed with linear programming by applying stepwise 10% GHGE reductions. Other models directly minimized GHGE.
RESULTS: For most countries and whatever the gender, achieving nutritional adequacy implied between-food-group subtitutions (i.e., replacing items from the sugar/fat/alcohol food-group with items from the fruit and vegetables and starchy food-groups), but increased GHGE. Once nutritional adequacy was met, to decrease GHGE, the optimization process further induced within-food-groups substitutions that were reinforced by stepwise GHGE reductions. Diet modeling results showed the need for changes in consumption of animal-based products but those changes differed according to country and gender, particularly for fish, poultry, and non-liquid milk dairy. Depending on country and gender, maximal GHGE reductions achievable ranged from 62% to 78% but they induced large departures from observed diets (at least 2.8?kg/day of total absolute weight change) by modifying the quantity of at least 99% of food items.
CONCLUSIONS: Setting nutritional goals with no consideration for the environment may increase GHGE. However, diet sustainability can be improved by substituting food items from the sugar/fat/alcohol food group with fruit, vegetables, and starches, and country-specific changes in consumption of animal-based products. Standardized surveys and individual diet modeling are promising tools for further exploring ways to achieve sustainable diets in Europe.

PMID: 29402959 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

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