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PLoS One. 2016 Nov 3;11(11):e0165797. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0165797. eCollection 2016.

The Impacts of Dietary Change on Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Land Use, Water Use, and Health: A Systematic Review.

Author information

1
Dept. of Population Health, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, London, United Kingdom.
2
Leverhulme Centre for Integrative Research on Agriculture & Health, London, United Kingdom.
3
Institute of Biological and Environmental Sciences, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen, United Kingdom.
4
Dept. of Social & Environmental Health Research, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, London, United Kingdom.

Abstract

Food production is a major driver of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, water and land use, and dietary risk factors are contributors to non-communicable diseases. Shifts in dietary patterns can therefore potentially provide benefits for both the environment and health. However, there is uncertainty about the magnitude of these impacts, and the dietary changes necessary to achieve them. We systematically review the evidence on changes in GHG emissions, land use, and water use, from shifting current dietary intakes to environmentally sustainable dietary patterns. We find 14 common sustainable dietary patterns across reviewed studies, with reductions as high as 70-80% of GHG emissions and land use, and 50% of water use (with medians of about 20-30% for these indicators across all studies) possible by adopting sustainable dietary patterns. Reductions in environmental footprints were generally proportional to the magnitude of animal-based food restriction. Dietary shifts also yielded modest benefits in all-cause mortality risk. Our review reveals that environmental and health benefits are possible by shifting current Western diets to a variety of more sustainable dietary patterns.

PMID:
27812156
PMCID:
PMC5094759
DOI:
10.1371/journal.pone.0165797
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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