Study: Plan­e­tary diet could save Earth

The Tribune (SLO) - - Classifieds - BY FIZA PIRANI

Our cur­rent food pro­duc­tion and con­sump­tion habits are doomed to “ex­ac­er­bate risks to peo­ple and planet,” ac­cord­ing to a land­mark study pub­lished in The Lancet re­cently. But if we make a rad­i­cal change — as in, cut our sugar and red meat by half and dou­ble our veg­etable, fruit and nut con­sump­tion — we could po­ten­tially pre­vent up to 11.6 mil­lion avoid­able deaths per year with­out hurt­ing our home.

The new re­search comes from a group of 37 sci­en­tists from around the globe, all of whom are part of the EAT-Lancet com­mis­sion.

Ac­cord­ing to EAT­fo­rum.org, “food sys­tems are a ma­jor source of green­house gas emis­sions” and are “the main user of fresh wa­ter, a lead­ing driver of bio­di­ver­sity loss, land-use change and cause eu­troph­i­ca­tion or dead zones in lakes and coastal ar­eas.” Un­healthy di­ets of­fer harm­ful ef­fects of their own. They’re “the lead­ing risk fac­tor for dis­ease world­wide, caus­ing rapidly grow­ing rates of Non­com­mu­ni­ca­ble-Dis­eases (NCDs) such as di­a­betes, heart dis­ease and can­cers.” World hunger is yet an­other chal­lenge.

But de­spite ev­i­dence show­ing the way we eat and pro­duce food is in­deed dam­ag­ing our planet and ex­ac­er­bat­ing dis­ease, there isn’t a sci­en­tific con­sen­sus on what a healthy diet is, how food pro­duc­tion can be sus­tain­able and whether healthy di­ets can meet the de­mands of sus­tain­abil­ity. That’s where the 37 sci­en­tists come in.

The re­searchers used the “best avail­able ev­i­dence,” in­clud­ing ran­dom­ized tri­als, mas­sive co­hort stud­ies and con­trolled feed­ing stud­ies to come up with what they’re call­ing the “plan­e­tary health diet.”

“To have any chance of feed­ing 10 bil­lion peo­ple in 2050 within plan­e­tary bound­aries, we must adopt a healthy diet, slash food waste, and in­vest in tech­nolo­gies that re­duce en­vi­ron­men­tal impacts,” coau­thor Jo­han Rock­strom of the Pots­dam In­sti­tute for Cli­mate Change Im­pact Re­search told Phys.org. Ac­cord­ing to re­searchers, the Earth can only han­dle up to 10 bil­lion peo­ple. And with­out the global adap­ta­tion of the diet, the planet may not be able to meet the goals of the 2015 Paris Cli­mate Agree­ment.

“It is about be­hav­ioral change. It’s about tech­nolo­gies. It’s about poli­cies. It’s about reg­u­la­tions. But we know how to do this,” Rock­strom said.

The new diet pro­vides “gov­ern­ments, pro­duc­ers and in­di­vid­u­als with an ev­i­dence-based start­ing point to work to­gether to trans­form our food sys­tems and cul­tures,” Howard Frumkin, head of UK bio­med­i­cal re­search char­ity the Well­come Trust’s Our Planet Our Health pro­gram, which funded the re­search, told CNN.

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