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Environment, Food and Public Health

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Environmental Sustainability and Applications".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (10 September 2020) | Viewed by 62862

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Guest Editor
Center for Nutrition, Healthy Lifestyles and Disease Prevention, School of Public Health, Loma Linda University, Loma Linda, CA 92354, USA
Interests: the environmental and public health impact of dietary choices; dietary recommendations for achieving a more sustainable diet; better health of a community; and increased food security
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Food production is now recognized as a major factor that can adversely impact the environment. With the current predictions surrounding the effects of climate change on human civilization and our agricultural production, scientists are becoming increasingly focused on the need for a sustainable agriculture and dietary recommendations that support minimal damage to the environment. Any such shifts in agriculture and dietary behaviour changes to accommodate a lower carbon footprint have important public health implications. The interrelationship of all such factors, and the barriers that hinder moves toward a more sustainable diet need to be further researched and documented. Food security is a basic need of everyone. In providing food that is safe, sufficient, and of good nutritional quality for all persons, any recommended dietary guidelines must be supported by a sustainable agriculture.

This Special Issue will examine:

  • The environmental impact of both dietary recommendations and changes to new dietary patterns;
  • The environmental and public health impact of food production, processing methods, and food consumption;
  • Dietary recommendations to achieve a more environmentally sustainable diet;
  • How food security relates to public health issues;
  • Sociocultural factors involved with dietary behavior changes and the shift towards a more ecofriendly food production system.

Prof. Winston Craig
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • environmental sustainability
  • healthy and sustainable dietary patterns
  • environmental impact
  • food security
  • slow food
  • public health impact of dietary changes

Published Papers (8 papers)

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Research

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14 pages, 779 KiB  
Article
Environmental Impacts of Foods in the Adventist Health Study-2 Dietary Questionnaire
by Andrew Berardy, Ujué Fresán, Rodrigo A. Matos, Abigail Clarke, Alfredo Mejia, Karen Jaceldo-Siegl and Joan Sabaté
Sustainability 2020, 12(24), 10267; https://doi.org/10.3390/su122410267 - 9 Dec 2020
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 4705
Abstract
The objective of this study was to use life cycle assessment to estimate the environmental impacts (from farm to factory gate) of the 198 hard-coded line-items included in the food frequency questionnaire of the Adventist Health Study-2 survey and to assess differences among [...] Read more.
The objective of this study was to use life cycle assessment to estimate the environmental impacts (from farm to factory gate) of the 198 hard-coded line-items included in the food frequency questionnaire of the Adventist Health Study-2 survey and to assess differences among food groups. Life cycle inventories were created using existing data sources and primary data, and their global warming potential (GWP), land use, and water consumption impacts were assessed using the ReCiPe 2016 methodology. In addition to presenting the impacts according to weight and protein content across food groups, we include the novel addition of presenting impacts according to the NOVA classification indicating various levels of processing. Food categories were compared based on one kilogram of edible food, protein food sources were compared based on one kilogram of protein, and NOVA comparisons were based on one serving. In general, meats had the highest environmental impacts per both weight and protein content, while the lowest overall impacts per kilogram came from fruits. Meat analogs had the lowest overall impacts per kilogram of protein, contrary to expectations that additional processing would result in higher environmental impacts when compared to whole plant-based foods. Per serving, ultra-processed foods had the highest GWP, processed foods the highest land use, and minimally processed foods the highest water consumption. Results from this analysis were consistent with other studies. Results from this study suggest that meat and ultra-processed foods have the overall worst environmental impacts, but high water consumption in some minimally processed foods means that those should be carefully considered as well. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environment, Food and Public Health)
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20 pages, 4772 KiB  
Article
Modelling of Health Risk Associated with the Intake of Pesticides from Romanian Fruits and Vegetables
by Mariana Minuț, Mihaela Roșca, Raluca-Maria Hlihor, Petronela Cozma and Maria Gavrilescu
Sustainability 2020, 12(23), 10035; https://doi.org/10.3390/su122310035 - 1 Dec 2020
Cited by 17 | Viewed by 2829
Abstract
This study is focused on the assessment of risks caused by pesticide residues to Romanian and other European populations, by modelling the acute and chronic risks considering short- and long-term exposures to pesticide residues in specific fruits and vegetables from different Romanian regions. [...] Read more.
This study is focused on the assessment of risks caused by pesticide residues to Romanian and other European populations, by modelling the acute and chronic risks considering short- and long-term exposures to pesticide residues in specific fruits and vegetables from different Romanian regions. Data were obtained from the Romanian 2016 official monitoring programme. For assessing the dietary risk, we used the Pesticide Residue Intake model—PRIMo. According to the official data, it was found that 50.44% of fruit samples and 28.25% of vegetable samples were contaminated with pesticides. Our study focused on acute risks and chronic risks (in a maximalist worst-case scenario) posed by pesticide residues in strawberries, apples, lettuce and potatoes, given both their high degree of consumption and contamination with pesticides. The short-term exposure assessment of children’s health due to consumption of apples, lettuce and potatoes contaminated with dimethoate, chlorothalonil and carbendazim, revealed exposure levels higher than the acute reference dose (ARfD, as 100%), raising acute risks. On the other hand, the long-term exposure assessment showed that the highest percentage from the acceptable daily intake (ADI, as 100%) was obtained for German children (DE child) (273.9%), followed by Netherlands children (NL child) (143.7%) diets, based on consumption of apples with dimethoate residues. Therefore, serious measures are needed for banning pesticides such as dimethoate, chlorothalonil and carbendazim from all countries in the EU. This would reduce the health risks generated by the consumption of contaminated fruits and vegetables. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environment, Food and Public Health)
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13 pages, 270 KiB  
Article
Influence of the Socio-Cultural Environment and External Factors in Following Plant-Based Diets
by Ujué Fresán, Sofie Errendal and Winston J. Craig
Sustainability 2020, 12(21), 9093; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12219093 - 31 Oct 2020
Cited by 32 | Viewed by 10101
Abstract
A general transition to plant-based diets is recommended for improved human and planetary health. The information about why people opt for plant-based diets can be used to profile future health promotion initiatives. We studied the reasons that encouraged the adoption and maintenance of [...] Read more.
A general transition to plant-based diets is recommended for improved human and planetary health. The information about why people opt for plant-based diets can be used to profile future health promotion initiatives. We studied the reasons that encouraged the adoption and maintenance of plant-based diets and the influence of the socio-cultural environment and other external factors. Through the use of a specifically designed questionnaire, we evaluated two different populations. Interpreting data from 229 participants, we observed the relevance of adapting strategies to motivate people to embrace plant-based diets according to their socio-cultural environment. External factors facilitating access to plant-based products appeared to be essential in both populations. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environment, Food and Public Health)
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25 pages, 1019 KiB  
Article
Reshaping the Traditional Pattern of Food Consumption in Romania through the Integration of Sustainable Diet Principles. A Qualitative Study
by Lelia Voinea, Dorin Vicențiu Popescu, Mihaela Bucur, Teodor Mihai Negrea, Răzvan Dina and Calcedonia Enache
Sustainability 2020, 12(14), 5826; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12145826 - 20 Jul 2020
Cited by 19 | Viewed by 5478
Abstract
The Romanian traditional pattern of food consumption as a whole is no longer a reference point in shaping a healthy and sustainable food behavior due to the growing discrepancies between the return to traditions and the constraints of sustainable development, so the aim [...] Read more.
The Romanian traditional pattern of food consumption as a whole is no longer a reference point in shaping a healthy and sustainable food behavior due to the growing discrepancies between the return to traditions and the constraints of sustainable development, so the aim of this study is to provide solutions for reshaping the food pattern by incorporating the principles of sustainable diet. The research conducted is based on qualitative data and the semi-structured interview was used as method of data collection from a sample of 21 Romanians traditional food consumers. The study led to a typology of respondents that combines two consumption orientations, “healthy” and “convenience”, with two attitudes towards traditional diet, “hedonism” and “conformism”. Although respondents do not completely reject the idea of flexitarianism, they showed the tendency for overconsumption of meat-based traditional foods and a weak concern for environmental sustainability. For these reasons, a set of recommendations for a new model of sustainable diet for Romanian population, focused on the relationship between traditionality, sustainability, and health, was put forward. The research findings show the need for supporting nutritional education programs and extensive information campaigns targeted at Romanian consumers to encourage the adoption of flexitarian style and the switch to a more sustainable diet in the near future. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environment, Food and Public Health)
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15 pages, 858 KiB  
Article
Breakfast Characterization and Consumption by Low-Income Brazilians: Food Identity and Regional Food
by Janice Ramos de Sousa, Rita de Cássia C.A. Akutsu, Renata Puppin Zandonadi and Raquel B. A. Botelho
Sustainability 2020, 12(12), 4998; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12124998 - 18 Jun 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1904
Abstract
The study aimed to evaluate the breakfast (BF) of the Brazilian low-income population, analyzing cultural aspects, such as the habit of consuming regional foods and the BF food identity markers. This cross-sectional study used a sample of 1872 low-income Brazilians. For the food [...] Read more.
The study aimed to evaluate the breakfast (BF) of the Brazilian low-income population, analyzing cultural aspects, such as the habit of consuming regional foods and the BF food identity markers. This cross-sectional study used a sample of 1872 low-income Brazilians. For the food consumption analysis, three 24–hour dietary recalls were used. For the qualitative analysis of the BF, we used three classifications: standard, full, partial, and without BF. Also, BF was considered as regional when at least one regional food (contained in a predefined list of regional foods) was consumed. For the analysis of BF's food identity markers, we evaluated all food groups and their frequencies. Of the 5616 possible BF meals available for the three days of consumption, 17.3% were skipped, a low percentage. A total of 4642 BF examples were analyzed. Standard type BF was prevalent in all regions, and full BF was rarely consumed by participants. Women during the weekend skipped BF less often. Out of all five Brazilian regions, the ones with the highest consumption of regional foods were the Midwest (46.6%) and the South (45.9%). The highest frequency of consumed foods in BF were coffee with cow’s milk (or milk with coffee), added sugar, bread, and margarine, indicating that these are the identity markers of BF in the studied sample. Considering that the percentage of standard type BF was very high and that the consumption of added sugar and margarine was accentuated, actions to stimulate the intake of fresh fruits and foods in all meals are necessary, especially in the first meal of the day. There is a need for new proposals for actions and programs with the purpose of expanding access to healthy and adequate regional foods, especially to low-income families. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environment, Food and Public Health)
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25 pages, 1764 KiB  
Article
A Novel Model to Predict Plant-Based Food Choice-Empirical Study in Southern Vietnam
by Thanh-Lam Nguyen, Do Huu Tai, Lam Thanh Hien, Doan Manh Quynh and Phan Ngoc Son
Sustainability 2020, 12(9), 3847; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12093847 - 8 May 2020
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 6512
Abstract
The beneficial advantages of plant-based diets towards human beings have been well addressed over the last few decades. More and more people are now enjoying plant-based diets for their physical health, psychological health, animal rights, environment protection, etc. However, there are still many [...] Read more.
The beneficial advantages of plant-based diets towards human beings have been well addressed over the last few decades. More and more people are now enjoying plant-based diets for their physical health, psychological health, animal rights, environment protection, etc. However, there are still many stereotypes about the lifestyle. Hence, this study aims at identifying key factors affecting the plant-based food choices so that we can propose feasible implications to widely promote plant-based diets across communities for their better health, eudemonic well-being and life satisfaction as well as the sustainable survival of our beloved planet—“Mother Earth”. Based on statistical analysis results of data collected from 1477 participants in 10 out of 19 provinces/cities in Southern Vietnam, the plant-based food choice is found significantly affected by not only gender and marriage status but also by a so-called SHOULD Model, where: (1) S refers to Spirituality and Social relationships; (2) H refers to Health concerns; (3) O refers to Opulence of plant-based foods and Outlook on life; (4) U refers to Understanding of human body structures; (5) L refers to Love towards animals; and (6) D refers to Diet knowledge. Among the identified factors, “understanding of human body structures” and “outlook on life” are two new factors proposed in this study, fulfilling the existing literature about the determinants of plant-based food choice. From such findings, some managerial implications are proposed to not only promote plant-based lifestyle but also help to develop plant-based food business in practice. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environment, Food and Public Health)
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14 pages, 300 KiB  
Article
Brazilian Community Restaurants’ Low-Income Food Handlers: Association between the Nutritional Status and the Presence of Non-Communicable Chronic Diseases
by Ingrid C. Fideles, Rita de Cassia Coelho de Almeida Akutsu, Priscila R. F. Costa, Jamacy Costa-Souza, Raquel Braz Assunção Botelho and Renata Puppin Zandonadi
Sustainability 2020, 12(8), 3467; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12083467 - 24 Apr 2020
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 5245
Abstract
This cross-sectional study aimed primarily to determine the association between the nutritional status and the presence of non-communicable chronic diseases (NCDs) among community restaurants’ food handlers, since their access to food can influence their body mass index (BMI). The study discusses the socio-demographic [...] Read more.
This cross-sectional study aimed primarily to determine the association between the nutritional status and the presence of non-communicable chronic diseases (NCDs) among community restaurants’ food handlers, since their access to food can influence their body mass index (BMI). The study discusses the socio-demographic status of participants, dietary intake, the prevalence of overweightness/obesity, and self-reported diagnosed NCDs. In 36 Community Restaurants (CRs) from all of the Brazilian regions, we collected data from 559 food handlers. We used a questionnaire to collect socio-demographic data and the reported diagnosed chronic diseases. For the anthropometric evaluation with Body Mass Index calculation, we measured the weight and the height of the individuals. They were all weighed before having lunch at the CR, without shoes and coats. Associations between variables were analyzed by the chi-square test and Poisson regression at a significance level of 5%, considering health as the outcome variable. Most of the food handlers were female (63.1%), married or with a partner (51.7%), and overweight (59.9%). Among the food handlers that presented diagnosed NCDs (n = 96, 17.2% of food handlers), 45.8% (n = 44) presented hypertension and 12.5% (n = 12) type 2 diabetes mellitus. There was a significant association between BMI and NCD status in the studied population. The total daily sodium intake of food handlers was higher than the recommendations of the World Health Organization (WHO), especially from the CR lunch, which may raise the risk of chronic diseases such as hypertension (the most prevalent non-communicable disease found in our study). Despite that, in general, the CRs provide access to cheap and adequate meals to their workers, considering energy intake and the proportion of macronutrients. In this population, overweightness and obesity were prevalent; there was an association of obesity with chronic disease in the study population. Therefore, it is necessary for better menu planning for CRs to guarantee sodium reduction throughout time. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environment, Food and Public Health)

Review

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17 pages, 587 KiB  
Review
Gender Differences in Attitudes to Vegans/Vegetarians and Their Food Preferences, and Their Implications for Promoting Sustainable Dietary Patterns–A Systematic Review
by Klaudia Modlinska, Dominika Adamczyk, Dominika Maison and Wojciech Pisula
Sustainability 2020, 12(16), 6292; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12166292 - 5 Aug 2020
Cited by 70 | Viewed by 25170
Abstract
Limiting meat consumption has recently become one of the key issues linked to public health and environmental sustainability. This is reflected in the strong emphasis on increasing promotion of plant-based nutritional styles, such as vegan and vegetarian diets. Vegan/vegetarian diets appeal to certain [...] Read more.
Limiting meat consumption has recently become one of the key issues linked to public health and environmental sustainability. This is reflected in the strong emphasis on increasing promotion of plant-based nutritional styles, such as vegan and vegetarian diets. Vegan/vegetarian diets appeal to certain demographic groups more than to others. The most striking difference, however, is found between the sexes. Men and women differ in their preferences for plant products and in their attitudes to meat consumption. There are also differences between their motivations to start and/or follow a vegan/vegetarian diet. Major differences have also been observed in men’s and women’s attitudes towards people following plant-based diets. Vegetarian diets are generally considered to be less masculine than meat-based diets, and omnivores exhibit more prejudice against vegetarian men than women. This study follows the PRISMA (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses) systematic literature review model. The Web of Science and PubMed databases were searched (up to January 2020) to identify studies, which analysed variables directly or indirectly related to inter-sex differences with regard to the vegan/vegetarian diet. After the screening process based on the relevance and quality criteria, 29 articles were included in the study. The purpose of this review is to raise awareness of these gender differences, not only as regards social perceptions, but also in terms of individual attitudes to vegetarian/vegan diets. Ignoring those differences hinders the promotion of plant-based diets and may explain the relatively meager success of previous efforts to promote sustainable nutritional styles. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environment, Food and Public Health)
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