Saturday, 16 February, 2019

Now, a global diet that may save planet, says study

The diet encourages cooking with ingredients such as whole grains and beans The diet encourages cooking with ingredients such as whole grains and beans
Anna Jefferson | 23 January, 2019, 21:43

This groundbreaking scientific report makes game-changing recommendations defining the direction of travel towards a sustainable food and farming system to achieve healthy diets for all by 2050.

"The food we eat and how we produce it determines the health of people and the planet, and we are now getting this seriously wrong", said Tim Lang, of City, University of London in the UK.

"It is also important to remember EAT-Lancet is making many of its recommendations based on farming systems not commonly used in New Zealand such as grain-fed livestock production when in fact we are a world leader in producing grass-fed red meat".

Co-lead commissioner, Dr Walter Willett of Harvard University, has said in the report that the world's diet has to dramatically change.

The report also recommends that people eat just 29g of chicken each day, 250g of dairy (about one glass of milk) and just over one egg per week.

The team said consumption of fruits, vegetables, and legumes such as chickpeas and lentils must increase more than two fold, particularly in poorer nations where more than 800 million people get insufficient calories. Globally, more than 820 million people remain undernourished and concurrently, prevalence of diseases associated with high-calorie, unhealthy diets are increasing, with 2.1 billion adults overweight or obese and the global prevalence of diabetes nearly doubling in the past 30 years.

"We are not saying everyone has to eat in the same way", Lang said by phone.

"We can no longer feed our population a healthy diet while balancing planetary resources", offers the study's introductory notes.

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The panel behind the report is comprised of 37 experts from 16 countries specialising in health, nutrition, environmental sustainability, economics and politics.

For Ireland, the food and drink industry is worth approximately €12 billion, and this is heavily contributed to by beef and dairy production.

To meet this challenge, dietary changes must be combined with improved food production and reduced food waste.

"Agriculture priorities need to shift", said commission member Jessica Fanzo, an associate professor of global food and agricultural policy at the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics in Baltimore.

The study finds authors warning that a global change in diet and food production is needed as 3 billion people across the world malnourished (including both under and over nourished) and food production is overstepping overstepping environmental targets.

A quarter-pounder burger patty contains roughly 450 calories and North Americans alone consume more than six times the current daily recommended red meat intake of between 50-70 grammes.

"We expected these attacks", said Lang. All countries are eating more starchy vegetables (potatoes and cassava) than recommended, with intakes ranging between 1.5 times above the recommendation in South Asia and by 7.5 times in Sub-Saharan Africa.

The Commission's definition of a healthy reference diet was calculated through analysis of food groups, with appropriate ranges proposed for essential daily intake that would lead to optimal health and well-being, and reduce premature deaths worldwide by 19-23 per cent.

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