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Achieving Healthy Diet From Sustainable Food Feasible

THURSDAY, Jan. 17, 2019 -- Achieving a healthy diet from sustainable food systems is feasible but will require considerable shifts toward healthy dietary patterns, according to a report from the EAT-Lancet Commission published online Jan. 16 by The Lancet.

Walter Willet, M.D., from Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, and colleagues from the fields of human health, agriculture, political sciences, and environmental sustainability developed global scientific targets based on evidence for healthy diets and sustainable food production.

The authors present a healthy reference diet to provide a basis for estimating the effects of adopting an alternative diet to current diets. The healthy reference diet consists of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and unsaturated oils, including a low-to-moderate amount of seafood or poultry. Red meat, processed meat, added sugar, refined grains, and starchy vegetables should be avoided or included at a low level. The global average intake of healthy food is considerably lower than the reference diet intake, while unhealthy food overconsumption is increasing. Global adoption of the reference dietary pattern would provide major health benefits and would reduce environmental degradation caused by food production.

"We show that it is possible to feed a global population of nearly 10 billion people a healthy diet within food production boundaries by 2050," the authors write. "However, this Great Food Transformation will only be achieved through widespread, multisector, multilevel action that includes a substantial global shift towards healthy dietary patterns, large reductions in food loss and waste, and major improvements in food production practices."

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Posted: January 2019

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