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Mediterranean dietary shift threatens health and the environment

The Mediterranean diet is seeing a shift away from traditional diets, threatening health and the environment, say the FAO and the International Centre for Advanced Mediterranean Agronomic Studies (CIHEAM) in a new report.

Consumption of fruits and legumes is declining in favour of increased meat and dairy in the region; the report suggests that the decline in traditional food production and preparation may be caused by globalisation, food marketing, and the shifting role of women in society. The report also highlights the potential environmental harm of lower reliance on local foods: “Increased adherence to the Mediterranean diet will improve dietary diversity and plant­based food consumption, with lower GHG emissions”.

Read the full report here and see further coverage here. Read more about the Mediterranean diet and sustainable healthy diets in our research library.

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The Middle-East is a transcontinental region centered on Egypt and Western Asia. Its economies range from the very poor (such as Gaza and Yemen) to the extremely wealthy (such as oil-supported Qatar and United Arab Emirates). Most of the region has a hot, dry climate. Early settled agriculture originated in the Middle-East: it is the centre of origin and diversity of several major cereal and legume crops, and is the site of sheep and goat domestication. Large rivers provide irrigation to support agriculture in certain areas such as the Nile Delta in Egypt and the Tigris and Euphrates watersheds of Mesopotamia.

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