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Open AccessArticle

The Links between Human Diets and Health and Climate Outcomes in the World’s Macro-Regions during the Last 50 Years

Faculty of Science and Technology, Free University of Bozen-Bolzano, 39100 Bolzano, Italy
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Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(4), 1219; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17041219 (registering DOI)
Received: 30 December 2019 / Revised: 6 February 2020 / Accepted: 11 February 2020 / Published: 13 February 2020
Globally, traditional food security fears have been supplemented by concerns about food system sustainability that link current agricultural production practices to damages of environmental ecosystems and the world’s climate, thus threatening the natural resource base of future generations. This paper aims at creating a better understanding of the evolution of diet sustainability from 1961 to 2013. Data from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations were used to investigate the situation for the world as a whole as well as for its macro-regions Africa, Asia, the Americas, Europe and Oceania. We define diet sustainability by (a) the share of daily per capita calorie intake derived from vegetable/plant products and (b) the variety of vegetable/plant products consumed, measured by the Simpson diversity index. Moreover, total calorie consumption is considered. Then the correlations between diet sustainability and (a) macro-regional life expectancy rates and (b) food system greenhouse gas emissions are calculated. The results show that diet sustainability has not changed much during the last 50 years. Moreover, the nexus between diets and health and climate outcomes is not fully evident at the macro-regional level. Therefore, Malthus 2.0, i.e., scientific food pessimism, should be avoided. In particular, the limitations of dietary contributions to human and planetary health ought to be more widely acknowledged.
Keywords: sustainable diets; human health; world climate; food pessimism sustainable diets; human health; world climate; food pessimism
MDPI and ACS Style

Fischer, C.; Miglietta, P.P. The Links between Human Diets and Health and Climate Outcomes in the World’s Macro-Regions during the Last 50 Years. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17, 1219.

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