Medicine and Health
Background/objectives It is not known whether dietary changes able to simultaneously achieve nutritional adequacy and
reduce diet-related greenhouse gas emissions (GHGE) are similar across Europe when cultural and gender specificities are
taken into account.
Subjects/methods Starting from each mean observed diet in five European countries (France, UK, Italy, Finland, and
Sweden) and for each gender, nutritionally adequate diets departing the least from observed diet were designed with linear
programming by applying stepwise 10% GHGE reductions. Other models directly minimized GHGE.
Results For most countries and whatever the gender, achieving nutritional adequacy implied between-food-group subtitutions
(i.e., replacing items from the sugar/fat/alcohol food-group with items from the fruit and vegetables and starchy foodgroups),
but increased GHGE. Once nutritional adequacy was met, to decrease GHGE, the optimization process further
induced within-food-groups substitutions that were reinforced by stepwise GHGE reductions. Diet modeling results showed
the need for changes in consumption of animal-based products but those changes differed according to country and gender,
particularly for fish, poultry, and non-liquid milk dairy. Depending on country and gender, maximal GHGE reductions
achievable ranged from 62% to 78% but they induced large departures from observed diets (at least 2.8 kg/day of total
absolute weight change) by modifying the quantity of at least 99% of food items.
Conclusions Setting nutritional goals with no consideration for the environment may increase GHGE. However, diet
sustainability can be improved by substituting food items from the sugar/fat/alcohol food group with fruit, vegetables, and
starches, and country-specific changes in consumption of animal-based products. Standardized surveys and individual diet
modeling are promising tools for further exploring ways to achieve sustainable diets in Europe.
Copyright: doi.org/10.1038/s41430-017-0080-z © 2018 copyright