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Sustainable diets: The interaction between food industry, nutrition, health and the environment

Ayten Aylin Alsaffar
Food Science and Technology International, Ciencia y TecnologĂ­a de Los Alimentos Internacional 2016, 22 (2): 102-11
25680370
Everyday great amounts of food are produced, processed, transported by the food industry and consumed by us and these activities have direct impact on our health and the environment. The current food system has started causing strain on the Earth's natural resources and that is why sustainable food production systems are needed. This review article discusses the need for sustainable diets by exploring the interactions between the food industry, nutrition, health and the environment, which are strongly interconnected. The most common environmental issues in the food industry are related to food processing loss, food wastage and packaging; energy efficiency; transportation of foods; water consumption and waste management. Among the foods produced and processed, meat and meat products have the greatest environmental impact followed by the dairy products. Our eating patterns impact the environment, but the environment can impact dietary choices as well. The foods and drinks we consume may also affect our health. A healthy and sustainable diet would minimise the consumption of energy-dense and highly processed and packaged foods, include less animal-derived foods and more plant-based foods and encourage people not to exceed the recommended daily energy intake. Sustainable diets contribute to food and nutrition security, have low environmental impacts and promote healthy life for present and future generations. There is an urgent need to develop and promote strategies for sustainable diets; and governments, United Nations agencies, civil society, research organisations and the food industry should work together in achieving this.

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