Healthy UK diet associated with low greenhouse gas emissions

Contribution to greenhouse gas emissions from diet, age, sex, body mass index and vegetarian level. Credit: Rippin et al.

New analysis shows that nutritional supplements are often environmentally sustainable, and that dietary sustainability can be assessed on a special diet scale – rather broader food group categories. Dr. Holly Rippin of Leeds University in the United Kingdom and her colleagues present these findings in the Journal of Open Access. PLOS A November 24, 2021.

Food production is a major source of greenhouse gas emissions, accounting for one-third of global emissions. Previous studies have shown that sustainable nutrition for the environment is often less processed, less energy-dense, and more beneficial. However, much of the work has been done using a sustainable measure for a wide range of foods rather than specific foods, making it more accurate to assess the environmental impact of individual foods.

Working for Better Accuracy, Ripin and colleagues reviewed published published studies to classify greenhouse gas emissions from the 3,233 specific food items listed in the UK Food Integrated Data Collection (COFID). COFID already contains dietary information and is commonly used to evaluate individuals’ diets. The researchers then used a combination of excretory and diet data to evaluate the diet of 212 adults who reported all foods eaten in three 24-hour sessions.

Statistical data show that non-vegetarian diets are associated with a 59 percent higher greenhouse gas emissions associated with vegetarian diet. Men’s diets are associated with a 41 percent higher emissions associated with women’s diets, mainly by eating meat. And people who meet saturated fats, carbohydrates, and sodium have lower emissions than those recommended by World Health Organization.

These findings support policies focused on plant-based diets to promote sustainable nutrition. Suggests both environmental and nutritional benefits to replace coffee, tea and alcohol with local sustainable alternatives. In the future, similar research efforts may provide more clarity by including details of food products, country of origin, and other environmental factors.

The authors added: “We all want to do our part to save the planet. One way we can do this is by adjusting our diet. There are broad brush concepts, such as reducing our intake of meat, especially red meat. Our work shows that you can benefit greatly from small changes such as sweet cuts or branding.

Research: A sustainable diet is cheap and healthy.

More info:
Differences in greenhouse gas emissions Individual foods in the UK Associations between greenhouse gas emissions and nutrients; PLOS A (2021) DOI: 10.1371 / journal.pone.0259418

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