His main conclusions were:
- Greenhouse gas emissions and land use appear to be applicable and representative indicators of the environmental sustainability of diets. An additional indicator reflecting nitrogen and phosphorus cycles is urgently needed.
- Current focus is on negative health effects of nutritional quality: sodium, saturated fats and added sugars. Positively, plant proteins, essential fatty acids and dietary fibre are indicators of high nutritional quality.
- Linear programming is an effective tool for simultaneously optimising the nutritional quality and environmental sustainability of diets, taking affordability and cultural acceptability into account.
- An optimised, traditional Low Lands diet is as healthy as a traditional Mediterranean diet, but the former is more sustainable than the Mediterranean and the New Nordic diet.
- A sustainable diet is not necessarily more expensive. A healthy, sustainable weekly shopping basket for a two-person household can be filled for less than € 40 per week.
- Environmental sustainability can be connected to nutritional quality at diet and product levels. This synergy is described by the Sustainable Nutrient-Rich Foods (SNRF) index based on 7 nutritional quality indicators.
- The SNRF index assists rating foods into 4 groups: red; SNRF <–1, white; –1 to 0, brown; 0 to 1 and green; >1, ranging from products rich in sodium, saturated fats or sugars to low energy-dense, high nutrient-dense plant products.
- For a healthy diet, comparing the environmental impacts of products by using nutrient density as a functional unit (defined as Nutrient Density Unit) is a more practicable approach than using kg or kcal as units.
- Opportunities for improving both health and sustainability scores of different population subgroups lie primarily in the reduction of meat consumption and total metabolic energy (over)consumption.
- Four strategies could support population subgroups to eat both healthily & sustainably:
- Replacing snacks with fruit
- Replacing cheese with vegetables
- Partly replacing meat with fish
- Decreasing alcoholic drinks.
- The insights from this thesis can help consumers make informed food choices and contribute to the development of future dietary guidelines considering both nutritional quality & environmental sustainability
Dooren, C. V. (2018). Simultaneous optimisation of the nutritional quality and environmental sustainability of diets.
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