Global F&V Newsletter

Dietary guidelines - are they in line with a sustainable diet ?


Food-based Dietary Guidelines are documents produced by policy makers that recommend how citizens should eat. Since the 1960s, Dietary Guidelines have become one of many dietary change tools in a food policy maker’s tool-kit.

Tensions between health and sustainability in Dietary Guidelines have been discussed since the early 2010s.

Review of national healthy and sustainable dietary guidelines highlighted that health and sustainability that win-wins are possible, with diet shifts towards food based dietary guidelines shown to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHGE).

Over the last 3 years, our ability to analyse and quantify in detail sustainability impacts has grown considerably leading to a wider set of results. Ritchie et al. (2018) and Springmann et al. (2020) findings show that the majority current Guidelines are incompatible with global GHG emissions targets. Part of the problem is that Dietary Guidelines are typically qualitative and do not contain recommendations as quantified measures. This leads to uncertainty in the calculation of environmental impacts.

In this issue of Global Fruit & Veg Newsletter, three papers are summarised that show how food based dietary guidelines could be more quantified, using dietary optimisation to provide national diets. These articles highlight that in the French (Kesse-Guyot et al., 2020), Italian (Ferrari et al., 2020), and Danish (Lassen et al., 2020) contexts quantified dietary recommendations are possible and can lead to mutual win-wins.

Christian Reynolds
Centre for Food Policy City, University of London UNITED-KINGDOM