Dietary diversity, behaviour change in Indians key to better health and environment -Sahana Ghosh

-Mongabay.com

* A recent first of its kind study provides the first scientific targets for a healthy diet from a sustainable food production system that operates within planetary boundaries for food.

* Compared with current diets, global adoption of the new recommendations by 2050 will require global consumption of foods such as red meat and sugar to decrease by more than 50 percent, while consumption of nuts, fruits, vegetables, and legumes must increase more than two-fold.

* In India, lack of dietary diversity, such as those in grains, behavioural shifts and energy contribution from fossil fuels need to be dealt with for nutrition and environment protection.

* At the same time, factoring in the right kind of animal farming practices such as those practised by traditional pastoralists and small scale farmers, is crucial.

For India to balance nutritional security and environmental protection, improving the quality of vegetarian diets to incorporate greater diversity remains a challenge, a section of experts have said in the wake of the launch of a report on a proposed planetary health diet.

The findings from the EAT-Lancet Commission on Food, Planet, Health calls for sweeping food system changes by providing the first scientific targets for a healthy diet from a sustainable food production system that operates within planetary boundaries for food.

Compared with current diets, global adoption of the new recommendations by 2050 will require global consumption of foods such as red meat and sugar to decrease by more than 50 percent, while consumption of nuts, fruits, vegetables and legumes must increase more than two-fold.

Describing the planetary health diet as one that sustains human beings in terms of health and wellness but also supports the environmental goal of protecting the planet, professor K. Srinath Reddy from the Public Health Foundation of India, one of the authors of the report, expressed concern over the lack of dietary diversity in India.

“Improving the quality of vegetarian diet to have greater diversity to include greater protein content, greater fruit and vegetable content, that is the challenge for India and not so much the meat part of it,” Reddy told Mongabay-India.

The Commission states that global targets will need to be applied locally – for example, countries in North America eat almost 6.5 times the recommended amount of red meat, while countries in South Asia eat only half the recommended amount.

All countries are eating more starchy vegetables (potatoes and cassava) than recommended with intakes ranging from between 1.5 times above the recommendation in South Asia and by 7.5 times in sub-Saharan Africa.

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Mongabay.com, 22 January, 2019, https://india.mongabay.com/2019/01/22/dietary-diversity-behaviour-change-in-indians-key-to-better-health-and-environment/

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