The SUSDIET Research Project: Towards Sustainable Diets in Europe – final report

| Type artikkel: Rapport
Food consumption patterns observed in developed countries raise two main types of concerns related to environmental and public health dimensions. Regarding the environmental dimension, it is widely recognized that the food sector contributes significantly to climate change through high greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions: from 15 to 30% of total GHGEs are induced by food production, distribution and consumption (Esnouf et al., 2013; Tukker et al., 2009).
Animal products, particularly meat from ruminants, have higher GHG emissions than plant products and have a more negative impact on food security as they require more land and water to be produced (Steinfeld et al., 2006; Gonzalez et al., 2011; Nijdam et al., 2012, Nijdam et al., 2012). Consequently, changes in consumers' diets are often considered an important driver of climate change mitigation (Hoolohan et al., 2013; Carlsson‐Kanyama and González, 2009; Tukker et al., 2011) and many reports suggest promoting new consumption patterns based on the substitution of meat products by plant‐based products within the diets of high‐income country consumers (Stehfest et al., 2009; Berners‐Lee et al., 2012; Friel et al., 2009) Concerning public health issues, whereas infectious diseases have dramatically decreased and life‐expectancy increased over the last decades in many countries, the share of chronic diseases in mortality, often related to life‐style determinants have sharply risen and are now responsible for about 60% of deaths in the world (World Health Organisation (WHO), 2010a). Obesity and overweight prevalence, which are symptomatic of this evolution, concern now, on average, more than 50% of the populations in the OECD countries. The rising of chronic diseases among the ageing European populations leads to substantial increases in health expenditures (McCormick and Stone, 2007; Emery et al., 2007). Widely induced by life‐style evolution, up to 80% of the incidences of heart diseases, strokes, and type 2 diabetes and over one‐third of cancers could be prevented by eliminating shared risk factors (WHO, 2010a). Among these factors, food consumption behaviors have an important role. Diets currently observed in developed countries are strongly associated to detrimental effects on heath. A part from junk foods and too fat, salty or sugared foods and beverages, high consumption levels of animal‐based products are also considered as risks factors which contribute to increase the prevalence of chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes, some cancers, and cardio‐vascular diseases. Nutritional guidelines promoted by WHO include recommendations to limit the consumption of high in fat or salt or sugar contents as well as the consumption of too high quantities of fresh and processed meats.