The production of food is associated with significant environmental impact. In this paper, we describe the first assessment of the environmental impact of food consumption in the United States using individually reported dietary intake data from a nationally representative sample. Using individual-level dietary intake data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) and applying median environmental impact factors compiled by Poore and Nemecek (2018), we estimate that the daily diet that a non-institutionalized U.S. civilian reports results in a mean of 3.92 m2
(95% CI: 3.51–4.34) of land used, 2.26 kg (95% CI: 2.09–2.42)of CO2
e emitted, and 159 L (95% CI: 150–168) of freshwater withdrawn. The scope of all impacts is agricultural; transportation, storage, and preparation were not included. These results suggest that the calculator is ready for further development. This calculator can be used to estimate the environmental impact of individual diets in the 5100 studies (as of November 2018) registered with the Automated Self-Administered 24-h Dietary Assessment Tool, in addition to the last two decades of the nationally representative NHANES research.
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