Knowledge for better food systems

Showing results for: Dietary guidelines

Photo: USDA, People eating out at a fast food restaurant, Flickr, creative commons licence 2.0
16 August 2016

This paper provides a detailed case study of the history and controversy surrounding the proposed inclusion of sustainability information in the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, as recommended by the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) – a body composed of nutritionists, physicians, and public health experts, tasked with reviewing the evidence base for the guidelines every 5 years.

19 May 2016

Today sees the launch of a new report published jointly by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the Food Climate Research Network (FCRN) at the University of Oxford. Plates, pyramids and planet evaluates government-issued food-based dietary guidelines from across the globe, looking in particular at whether they make links to environmental sustainability as well as personal health. 

20 April 2016

The Health Council of the Netherlands (the Dutch Dietary Guidelines Committee 2015) has published an updated set of Dutch dietary guidelines.

20 April 2016

This study, which quantifies at the global and regional level the health and environmental consequences of dietary change,  argues that there are substantial health and environmental gains to be made from switching to more plant based diets.  According to the research, food-related emissions could be cut by 29% if global dietary guidelines were adopted. 

1 April 2016

The UK’s official dietary guidelines were updated in March 2016. The Carbon Trust has undertaken a useful analysis of the environmental implications of the new plate. FCRN member John Kazer (Footprint Certification Manager at The Carbon Trust) provides the following summary of the analysis here:

3 February 2016

This BBC News – Health article describes the new smartphone app that has been released by Public Health England (PHE) as part of its Change4Life advertising campaign. The app allows the user to scan the bar-codes of over 75,000 food and drink items and be told how much sugar the item contains, either as sugar cubes or grams.

3 February 2016

This report quantifies the losses of reactive nitrogen from EU agriculture and food systems by food type, and assesses the impact of alternative diets (especially reduced meat) on the environment (through nitrogen emissions, greenhouse gas emissions and land use) and human health. Reactive nitrogen losses associated with agriculture refer mainly to the release of ammonia and nitrous oxide into the air, and nitrates into the ground. Nitrous oxide is a powerful greenhouse gas, and nitrate excesses in soil can lead to water pollution.

18 January 2016

The FCRN has previously reported on the controversy over the development of the 2015 US dietary guidelines, and in particular the vociferous debate as to whether they should include sustainability considerations.

17 December 2015

This paper quantifies what the environmental impacts would be if the typical US diet were to shift in line with the USDA dietary recommendations. The paper has created a lot of interest and debate since it shows that shifting towards healthier diets in some cases can increase the energy, emission and water intensity of the diet. This is why we wanted to provide a more extensive summary and some commentary below. Please do read, share and add your own comments.

For a comment by the study's lead author Michelle Tom see here and for another comment by Professor Michael Hamm see here

2 December 2015

Over 75 top nutrition scientists and medical experts gathered in Boston in October 2015 at the Finding Common Ground Conference, convened by the non-profit Oldways to try to agree on principles for a healthy diet (primarily aimed at a U.S. audience). Oldways is a food and nutrition education organization aiming to inspire healthy eating through cultural food traditions and lifestyles. The meeting was attended by a diverse range of experts, many vocal proponents of particular types of diets (vegan, paleo, low-fat, Mediterranean etc.) and is described to have led to some heated debates.

2 December 2015

This paper looks at public awareness of the environmental impacts of meat and attitudes to reducing meat consumption. The study, carried out in Scotland, was based on focus group discussions and individual interviews and tried to understand the cultural and social values associated with eating meat. It found a lack of awareness of the association between meat consumption and climate change, and suggested that individual dietary change will be difficult to achieve without addressing these values and beliefs.

16 November 2015

In this paper researchers recommend taking a broader "systems" approach to food policy in order to tackle public health issues as far-ranging as climate change and antibiotic use in food animal production. Three examples are given of a food systems approach to food policy: farm-to-school programs, incorporating sustainability into the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and antibiotic use in food animal production.

9 October 2015

This paper by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future (CLF) suggests that as much as 47 percent of the edible U.S. seafood supply is lost each year.  The paper shows that the majority of the waste is produced mainly at the consumer stage. The waste issue adds another layer of pressure on fish stocks and the global seafood supply that are already seriously threatened by overfishing, climate change, pollution, habitat destruction and the use of fish for other purposes besides human consumption.

9 October 2015

It has been announced that the U.S. will not be incorporating sustainability into the new Dietary Guidelines for Americans (which are updated every five years). According to a blog-post written by Sylvia Mathews Burwell, Secretary of Health and Human Services  (HHS Secretary) and Tom Vilsack, Department of Agriculture USDA Secretary, the US government does “not believe that the 2015 DGAs are the appropriate vehicle for this important policy conversation about sustainability.” The two argue that although the final recommendations are still being drafted, the final guidelines should remain within the mandate in the 1990 National Nutrition Monitoring and Related Research Act (NNMRRA);  to provide “nutritional and dietary information and guidelines”… “based on the preponderance of the scientific and medical knowledge.”

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