The ideal diet for the people and the planet
What is the ideal diet for the planet and its people?
If the world followed the “Planetary Health” diet, more than 11 million premature deaths could be prevented each year, while greenhouse gas emissions would be cut and more land, water and biodiversity would be preserved, a new study has found.
The ideal diet includes doubling of consumption of nuts, fruits, vegetables and legumes, and halving of meat and sugar intake, Reuters reports.
The report was published in the medical journal The Lancet.
The food we eat and how we produce it determines the health of people and the planet, and we are currently getting this seriously wrong,” said Tim Lang, a professor at Britain’s University of London who co-led the research.
10 billion people by 2050
The world's population is set to reach 10 billion people by 2050. that growth, plus our current diet and food production habits, will "exacerbate risks to people and planet," according to the authors.
We need a significant overhaul, changing the global food system on a scale not seen before.”
2500 calories per day
The diet advises people consume 2,500 calories per day, which is slightly more than what people are eating today, said Willett. People should eat a "variety of plant-based foods, low amounts of animal-based foods, unsaturated rather than saturated fats, and few refined grains, highly processed foods and added sugars, researchers explain.
It says global average consumption of foods such as red meat and sugar should be cut by 50 percent, while consumption of nuts, fruits, vegetables and legumes should double.
For individual regions, this could mean even more dramatic changes: People in North America, for example, eat almost 6.5 times the recommended amount of red meat, while people in South Asia eat only half the amount suggested by the planetary diet.
Meeting the targets for starchy vegetables such as potatoes and cassava would need big changes in sub-Saharan Africa, where people on average eat 7.5 times the suggested amount.
What can an unhealthy died cause?
Many life-threatening chronic diseases are linked to poor diets, including obesity, diabetes, malnutrition and several types of cancer. The researchers said unhealthy diets currently cause more death and disease worldwide than unsafe sex, alcohol, drug and tobacco use combined.
The proposed planetary diet is the result of a three-year project commissioned by The Lancet health journal and involving 37 specialists from 16 countries.