Dietary choices and environmental impact in four European countries

Elly Mertens*, Anneleen Kuijsten, Hannah HE van Zanten, Gerdine Kaptijn, Marcela Dofková, Lorenza Mistura, L. D'Addezio, Aida Turrini, Carine Dubuisson, Sabrina Havard, Ellen Trolle, Johanna M. Geleijnse, Pieter van ’t Veer

*Corresponding author for this work

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Abstract

Effective food policies in Europe require insight into the environmental impact of consumers’ diet to contribute to global nutrition security in an environmentally sustainable way. The present study therefore aimed to assess the environmental impact associated with dietary intake across four European countries, and to explain sources of variations in environmental impact by energy intake, demographics and diet composition. Individual-level dietary intake data were obtained from nationally-representative dietary surveys, by using two non-consecutive days of a 24-h recall or a diet record, from Denmark (DK, n = 1710), Czech Republic (CZ, n = 1666), Italy (IT, n = 2184), and France (FR, n = 2246). Dietary intake data were linked to a newly developed pan-European environmental sustainability indicator database that contains greenhouse gas emissions (GHGE) and land use (LU) values for ∼900 foods. To explain the variation in environmental impact of diets, multilevel regression models with random intercept and random slopes were fitted according to two levels: adults (level 1, n = 7806) and country (level 2, n = 4). In the models, diet-related GHGE or LU was the dependent variable, and the parameter of interest, i.e. either total energy intake or demographics or food groups, the exploratory variables. A 200-kcal higher total energy intake was associated with a 9% and a 10% higher daily GHGE and LU. Expressed per 2000 kcal, mean GHGE ranged from 4.4 (CZ) to 6.3 kgCO2eq/2000 kcal (FR), and LU ranged from 5.7 (CZ) to 8.0 m2*year/2000 kcal (FR). Dietary choices explained most of the variation between countries. A 5 energy percent (50 g/2000 kcal) higher meat intake was associated with a 10% and a 14% higher GHGE and LU density, with ruminant meat being the main contributor to environmental footprints. In conclusion, intake of energy, total meat and the proportion of ruminant meat explained most of the variation in GHGE and LU of European diets. Contributions of food groups to environmental footprints however varied between countries, suggesting that cultural preferences play an important role in environmental footprints of consumers. In particular, Findings from the present study will be relevant for national-specific food policy measures towards a more environmentally-friendly diet.

Original languageEnglish
Article number117827
JournalJournal of Cleaner Production
Volume237
Number of pages16
ISSN0959-6526
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Keywords

  • Dietary quality
  • Energy intake
  • Greenhouse gas emission
  • Land use
  • Sustainability

Cite this

Mertens, E., Kuijsten, A., van Zanten, H. HE., Kaptijn, G., Dofková, M., Mistura, L., ... Veer, P. V. . (2019). Dietary choices and environmental impact in four European countries. Journal of Cleaner Production, 237, [117827]. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jclepro.2019.117827
Mertens, Elly ; Kuijsten, Anneleen ; van Zanten, Hannah HE ; Kaptijn, Gerdine ; Dofková, Marcela ; Mistura, Lorenza ; D'Addezio, L. ; Turrini, Aida ; Dubuisson, Carine ; Havard, Sabrina ; Trolle, Ellen ; Geleijnse, Johanna M. ; Veer, Pieter van ’t. / Dietary choices and environmental impact in four European countries. In: Journal of Cleaner Production. 2019 ; Vol. 237.
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abstract = "Effective food policies in Europe require insight into the environmental impact of consumers’ diet to contribute to global nutrition security in an environmentally sustainable way. The present study therefore aimed to assess the environmental impact associated with dietary intake across four European countries, and to explain sources of variations in environmental impact by energy intake, demographics and diet composition. Individual-level dietary intake data were obtained from nationally-representative dietary surveys, by using two non-consecutive days of a 24-h recall or a diet record, from Denmark (DK, n = 1710), Czech Republic (CZ, n = 1666), Italy (IT, n = 2184), and France (FR, n = 2246). Dietary intake data were linked to a newly developed pan-European environmental sustainability indicator database that contains greenhouse gas emissions (GHGE) and land use (LU) values for ∼900 foods. To explain the variation in environmental impact of diets, multilevel regression models with random intercept and random slopes were fitted according to two levels: adults (level 1, n = 7806) and country (level 2, n = 4). In the models, diet-related GHGE or LU was the dependent variable, and the parameter of interest, i.e. either total energy intake or demographics or food groups, the exploratory variables. A 200-kcal higher total energy intake was associated with a 9{\%} and a 10{\%} higher daily GHGE and LU. Expressed per 2000 kcal, mean GHGE ranged from 4.4 (CZ) to 6.3 kgCO2eq/2000 kcal (FR), and LU ranged from 5.7 (CZ) to 8.0 m2*year/2000 kcal (FR). Dietary choices explained most of the variation between countries. A 5 energy percent (50 g/2000 kcal) higher meat intake was associated with a 10{\%} and a 14{\%} higher GHGE and LU density, with ruminant meat being the main contributor to environmental footprints. In conclusion, intake of energy, total meat and the proportion of ruminant meat explained most of the variation in GHGE and LU of European diets. Contributions of food groups to environmental footprints however varied between countries, suggesting that cultural preferences play an important role in environmental footprints of consumers. In particular, Findings from the present study will be relevant for national-specific food policy measures towards a more environmentally-friendly diet.",
keywords = "Dietary quality, Energy intake, Greenhouse gas emission, Land use, Sustainability",
author = "Elly Mertens and Anneleen Kuijsten and {van Zanten}, {Hannah HE} and Gerdine Kaptijn and Marcela Dofkov{\'a} and Lorenza Mistura and L. D'Addezio and Aida Turrini and Carine Dubuisson and Sabrina Havard and Ellen Trolle and Geleijnse, {Johanna M.} and Veer, {Pieter van ’t}",
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Mertens, E, Kuijsten, A, van Zanten, HHE, Kaptijn, G, Dofková, M, Mistura, L, D'Addezio, L, Turrini, A, Dubuisson, C, Havard, S, Trolle, E, Geleijnse, JM & Veer, PV 2019, 'Dietary choices and environmental impact in four European countries', Journal of Cleaner Production, vol. 237, 117827. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jclepro.2019.117827

Dietary choices and environmental impact in four European countries. / Mertens, Elly; Kuijsten, Anneleen; van Zanten, Hannah HE; Kaptijn, Gerdine; Dofková, Marcela; Mistura, Lorenza; D'Addezio, L.; Turrini, Aida; Dubuisson, Carine; Havard, Sabrina; Trolle, Ellen; Geleijnse, Johanna M.; Veer, Pieter van ’t.

In: Journal of Cleaner Production, Vol. 237, 117827, 2019.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

TY - JOUR

T1 - Dietary choices and environmental impact in four European countries

AU - Mertens, Elly

AU - Kuijsten, Anneleen

AU - van Zanten, Hannah HE

AU - Kaptijn, Gerdine

AU - Dofková, Marcela

AU - Mistura, Lorenza

AU - D'Addezio, L.

AU - Turrini, Aida

AU - Dubuisson, Carine

AU - Havard, Sabrina

AU - Trolle, Ellen

AU - Geleijnse, Johanna M.

AU - Veer, Pieter van ’t

PY - 2019

Y1 - 2019

N2 - Effective food policies in Europe require insight into the environmental impact of consumers’ diet to contribute to global nutrition security in an environmentally sustainable way. The present study therefore aimed to assess the environmental impact associated with dietary intake across four European countries, and to explain sources of variations in environmental impact by energy intake, demographics and diet composition. Individual-level dietary intake data were obtained from nationally-representative dietary surveys, by using two non-consecutive days of a 24-h recall or a diet record, from Denmark (DK, n = 1710), Czech Republic (CZ, n = 1666), Italy (IT, n = 2184), and France (FR, n = 2246). Dietary intake data were linked to a newly developed pan-European environmental sustainability indicator database that contains greenhouse gas emissions (GHGE) and land use (LU) values for ∼900 foods. To explain the variation in environmental impact of diets, multilevel regression models with random intercept and random slopes were fitted according to two levels: adults (level 1, n = 7806) and country (level 2, n = 4). In the models, diet-related GHGE or LU was the dependent variable, and the parameter of interest, i.e. either total energy intake or demographics or food groups, the exploratory variables. A 200-kcal higher total energy intake was associated with a 9% and a 10% higher daily GHGE and LU. Expressed per 2000 kcal, mean GHGE ranged from 4.4 (CZ) to 6.3 kgCO2eq/2000 kcal (FR), and LU ranged from 5.7 (CZ) to 8.0 m2*year/2000 kcal (FR). Dietary choices explained most of the variation between countries. A 5 energy percent (50 g/2000 kcal) higher meat intake was associated with a 10% and a 14% higher GHGE and LU density, with ruminant meat being the main contributor to environmental footprints. In conclusion, intake of energy, total meat and the proportion of ruminant meat explained most of the variation in GHGE and LU of European diets. Contributions of food groups to environmental footprints however varied between countries, suggesting that cultural preferences play an important role in environmental footprints of consumers. In particular, Findings from the present study will be relevant for national-specific food policy measures towards a more environmentally-friendly diet.

AB - Effective food policies in Europe require insight into the environmental impact of consumers’ diet to contribute to global nutrition security in an environmentally sustainable way. The present study therefore aimed to assess the environmental impact associated with dietary intake across four European countries, and to explain sources of variations in environmental impact by energy intake, demographics and diet composition. Individual-level dietary intake data were obtained from nationally-representative dietary surveys, by using two non-consecutive days of a 24-h recall or a diet record, from Denmark (DK, n = 1710), Czech Republic (CZ, n = 1666), Italy (IT, n = 2184), and France (FR, n = 2246). Dietary intake data were linked to a newly developed pan-European environmental sustainability indicator database that contains greenhouse gas emissions (GHGE) and land use (LU) values for ∼900 foods. To explain the variation in environmental impact of diets, multilevel regression models with random intercept and random slopes were fitted according to two levels: adults (level 1, n = 7806) and country (level 2, n = 4). In the models, diet-related GHGE or LU was the dependent variable, and the parameter of interest, i.e. either total energy intake or demographics or food groups, the exploratory variables. A 200-kcal higher total energy intake was associated with a 9% and a 10% higher daily GHGE and LU. Expressed per 2000 kcal, mean GHGE ranged from 4.4 (CZ) to 6.3 kgCO2eq/2000 kcal (FR), and LU ranged from 5.7 (CZ) to 8.0 m2*year/2000 kcal (FR). Dietary choices explained most of the variation between countries. A 5 energy percent (50 g/2000 kcal) higher meat intake was associated with a 10% and a 14% higher GHGE and LU density, with ruminant meat being the main contributor to environmental footprints. In conclusion, intake of energy, total meat and the proportion of ruminant meat explained most of the variation in GHGE and LU of European diets. Contributions of food groups to environmental footprints however varied between countries, suggesting that cultural preferences play an important role in environmental footprints of consumers. In particular, Findings from the present study will be relevant for national-specific food policy measures towards a more environmentally-friendly diet.

KW - Dietary quality

KW - Energy intake

KW - Greenhouse gas emission

KW - Land use

KW - Sustainability

U2 - 10.1016/j.jclepro.2019.117827

DO - 10.1016/j.jclepro.2019.117827

M3 - Journal article

VL - 237

JO - Journal of Cleaner Production

JF - Journal of Cleaner Production

SN - 0959-6526

M1 - 117827

ER -

Mertens E, Kuijsten A, van Zanten HHE, Kaptijn G, Dofková M, Mistura L et al. Dietary choices and environmental impact in four European countries. Journal of Cleaner Production. 2019;237. 117827. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jclepro.2019.117827