Public Release: 

Environmental impacts of national diet recommendations

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

Researchers report the environmental impacts of adopting nationally recommended diets. Nationally recommended dietary guidelines (NRDs) are widely used to provide nutritional advice to the public. However, the environmental impacts of NRDs have received little attention. Paul Behrens and colleagues compared the estimated environmental impacts of average diets and nation-specific NRDs for nine middle-income and 28 high-income nations. For high-income nations, NRDs were associated with approximately 13-25% reduction in greenhouse gases (GHGs), 10-21% reduction in eutrophication, and 6-18% reduction in land use, compared with average diets. For upper-middle-income nations, the reduced environmental impacts associated with NRDs were smaller than for high-income nations: approximately 1-12% GHG reduction, 8-19% eutrophication reduction, and 7-19% land-use reduction. In two lower-middle-income nations--India and Indonesia--GHGs, eutrophication, and land use for NRDs were greater than for average diets by approximately 12-17%, 25-32%, and 9-15%, respectively. The authors estimate a net reduction of 0.19-0.53 Gt CO2 equivalents per year, 4.3-10.6 Gt phosphate equivalents per year, and 1.5-2.8 million km2 of land use if all the nations included in the study followed NRDs. Incorporation of environmental concerns in the development of NRDs could yield further environmental benefits, according to the authors.

Article #17-11889: "Evaluating the environmental impacts of dietary recommendations," by Paul Behrens et al.

MEDIA CONTACT: Paul Behrens, Leiden University, NETHERLANDS; tel: +31-708009332, +31-627556295; e-mail: <p.a.behrens@luc.leidenuniv.nl>

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