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Nutrients 2016, 8(11), 690; doi:10.3390/nu8110690

Overconsumption of Energy and Excessive Discretionary Food Intake Inflates Dietary Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Australia

1
CSIRO Health and Biosecurity, P.O. Box 10041, Adelaide 5000, South Australia, Australia
2
CSIRO Agriculture, Private Bag 10, Clayton South 3169, Victoria, Australia
3
Sustainability Assessment Program (SAP), School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, UNSW Australia, Sydney 2052, NSW, Australia
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 2 June 2016 / Revised: 4 October 2016 / Accepted: 25 October 2016 / Published: 31 October 2016
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [1300 KB, uploaded 31 October 2016]   |  

Abstract

Population dietary guidelines have started to include information about the environmental impacts of food choices, but more quantifiable evidence is needed, particularly about the impacts associated with discretionary foods. This paper utilised the 2011–2012 Australian Health Survey food intake data along with a highly disaggregated input–output model to estimate the greenhouse gas emissions (GHGe) of Australians’ dietary intake, and compare current patterns of eating which vary in diet quality and GHGe to the recommended diet. The average dietary GHGe were 18.72 ± 12.06 and 13.73 ± 8.72 kg CO2e/day for male and female adults, respectively. The correlation between total energy and GHGe was r = 0.54 (p < 0.001). Core foods contributed 68.4% and discretionary foods 29.4%. Within core foods, fresh meat and alternatives (33.9%) was the greatest contributor. The modelling of current dietary patterns showed the contribution of discretionary foods to GHGe was 121% greater in the average diet and 307% greater in the “lower quality, higher GHGe” diet compared to the recommended diet. Reducing discretionary food intake would allow for small increases in emissions from core foods (in particular vegetables, dairy and grains), thereby providing a nutritional benefit at little environmental expense. Public health messages that promote healthy eating, eating to one’s energy needs and improved diet quality will also contribute to lowering GHGe. View Full-Text
Keywords: greenhouse gas emissions; sustainable diet; discretionary foods; Australia; environmental impacts greenhouse gas emissions; sustainable diet; discretionary foods; Australia; environmental impacts
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Hendrie, G.A.; Baird, D.; Ridoutt, B.; Hadjikakou, M.; Noakes, M. Overconsumption of Energy and Excessive Discretionary Food Intake Inflates Dietary Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Australia. Nutrients 2016, 8, 690.

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