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Adopting more stringent guidelines in the UK could reduce food-related greenhouse gas emissions by 70% and reduce diet-related deaths by more than 100,000 a year

Selection of foods layed out on a dark surface

Researchers led by Dr Marco Springmann from the Nuffield Department of Population Health, have found that most dietary recommendations provided by national governments are not compatible with global environmental and health targets such as the Paris Climate Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals. Recommending stricter limits on meat and dairy, and encouraging increased consumption of whole grains, fruits and vegetables, legumes, and nuts would be both healthier and lower in environmental impacts, their study found.

A team at the LEAP (Livestock, Environment and People) programme at the University of Oxford, and at Harvard, Tufts and Adelaide universities, looked at dietary recommendations from 85 countries. The paper, published today in The BMJ, is the first of its kind to analyse both the health and environmental outcomes of national dietary guidelines around the world.

The researchers modelled the adoption of guidelines at both the national and global level, and compared the impacts to global environmental and health targets that governments have agreed to and that are related to diets. These include, for example, the goal to reduce premature mortality from non-communicable diseases by a third, and the agreement to limit global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius.

The full story is available on the Nuffield Department of Population Health website