Transformation of the global food system is urgently needed as more than 3 billion people are under- or overnourished, and food production is exceeding planetary boundaries – driving climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution. To meet this challenge, dietary changes must be combined with improved food production and reduced food waste. Moving to this new dietary pattern will require global consumption of foods such as red meat and sugar to decrease by about 50%, while consumption of nuts, fruits, vegetables, and legumes must double.
These findings are presented in a , which provides the first scientific targets for a healthy diet from a sustainable food production system. We will continue to explore the role of diet in the food system at our on February 20, which will start with a keynote speech by Dr Line Gordon of the Stockholm Resilience Centre, one of the co-authors of the report.
Food is the single strongest lever to optimize human health and environmental sustainability, the report states. However, there is still no global consensus on what constitutes healthy diets and sustainable food production. According to Dr Richard Horton, editor-in-chief at The Lancet, there has been a global failure to address poor nutrition as a key driver and risk factor for disease; ‘It’s everyone’s and no-one’s problem’. The EAT-Lancet Commission argues that the lack of scientific targets for a healthy diet have hindered efforts to transform the food system.
Based on the best available evidence, the authors propose a dietary pattern that meets nutritional requirements, promotes health, and allows the world to stay within planetary boundaries, which they refer to as the planetary health diet. The daily dietary pattern of a planetary health diet consists of approximately 35% of calories as whole grains and tubers, protein sources mainly from plants – but including approximately 14g of red meat per day – and 500g per day of vegetables and fruits.
The Commission also proposes five strategies to adjust what people eat and how it is produced, focusing on policies to encourage people to choose better diets, strategies to refocus agriculture from volume to variety and nutrition, sustainable intensification of production, effective governance of land and ocean use, and halving food waste.
The EAT-Lancet Commission is a 3-year project that brings together 37 experts from 16 countries with expertise in health, nutrition, environmental sustainability, food systems, economics and political governance. This is one of several reports on nutrition being published by The Lancet in 2019. The next Commission – The Global Syndemic of Obesity, Undernutrition, and Climate Change – will publish later this month. The Stockholm Resilience Centre was the scientific coordinator of the report.
How diet is the leverage point towards healthy and sustainable food systems is also the theme of the 5th international JPI HDHL conference on February 20 2019 in Brussels. On this day we will be discussing what the knowledge needs around this topic are and how policy needs and R&I can be better connected. For the full programme and registration, please visit the conference webpage. The objective of JPI HDHL, a country driven initiative, is to improve the impact of R&I investments in food, nutrition, health and physical activity to counter the increasing burden of diet-related non-communicable diseases. There is a lot we do not know yet about the relation between diet and health as well as how to influence dietary behavior.
Research and innovation efforts in close collaboration with policy are needed to fill these knowledge gaps and we warmly invite interested funders and countries to join the JPI HDHL.
For the full report, please see: www.thelancet.com
For the summary report, please see: www.eatforum.org