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Sci Total Environ. 2017 Jun 1;587-588:128-136. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2017.02.085. Epub 2017 Feb 16.

The water use of Indian diets and socio-demographic factors related to dietary blue water footprint.

Author information

1
Department of Population Health, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, Keppel Street, London WC1E 7HT, UK. Electronic address: Francesca.Harris1@lshtm.ac.uk.
2
Department of Population Health, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, Keppel Street, London WC1E 7HT, UK; Leverhulme Centre for Integrative Research on Agriculture and Health (LCIRAH), 36 Gordon Square, London WC1H 0PD, UK.
3
GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences, Telegrafenberg, 14473 Potsdam, Germany.
4
Department of Population Health, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, Keppel Street, London WC1E 7HT, UK; Department of Social and Environmental Health Research, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, 15-17 Tavistock Place, London WC1H 9SH, UK.

Abstract

Agriculture accounts for ~90% of India's fresh water use, and there are concerns that future food production will be threatened by insufficient water supply of adequate quality. This study aimed to quantify the water required in the production of diets in India using the water footprint (WF) assessment method. The socio-demographic associations of dietary WFs were explored using mixed effects regression models with a particular focus on blue (irrigation) WF given the importance for Indian agriculture. Dietary data from ~7000 adults living in India were matched to India-specific WF data for food groups to quantify the blue and green (rainfall) WF of typical diets. The mean blue and green WF of diets was 737l/capita/day and 2531l/capita/day, respectively. Vegetables had the lowest WFs per unit mass of product, while roots/tubers had the lowest WFs per unit dietary energy. Poultry products had the greatest blue WFs. Wheat and rice contributed 31% and 19% of the dietary blue WF respectively. Vegetable oils were the highest contributor to dietary green WF. Regional variation in dietary choices meant large differences in dietary blue WFs, whereby northern diets had nearly 1.5 times greater blue WFs than southern diets. Urban diets had a higher blue WF than rural diets, and a higher standard of living was associated with larger dietary blue WFs. This study provides a novel perspective on the WF of diets in India using individual-level dietary data, and demonstrates important variability in WFs due to different food consumption patterns and socio-demographic characteristics. Future dietary shifts towards patterns currently consumed by individuals in higher income groups, would likely increase irrigation requirements putting substantial pressure on India's water resources.

KEYWORDS:

Food consumption; Freshwater use; India; Sustainability

PMID:
28215793
PMCID:
PMC5378197
DOI:
10.1016/j.scitotenv.2017.02.085
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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