The potential benefits of dietary shift in China:Synergies among acceptability, health, and environmental sustainability

Yin, J. and Zhang, X. and Huang, W. and Liu, L. and Zhang, Y. and Yang, D. and Hao, Y. and Chen, Y. (2021) The potential benefits of dietary shift in China:Synergies among acceptability, health, and environmental sustainability. Science of the Total Environment, 779. ISSN 0048-9697

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The transition to a healthier diet recommended by national dietary guidelines in China may not achieve sufficient environmental benefits. This study assesses China's potential of transforming into a sustainable diet and the trade-offs among reducing food-related environmental impacts, improving nutritional quality and respecting eating habits. We used multi-objective optimization to build optimized scenarios, with the lowest environmental footprint and greatest acceptability (i.e., with the minimum departure from the currently observed diet) as optimization goals, and adequate macro- and micronutrient intake levels as constraints. In doing so, we assessed the actual benefits and synergies of reducing carbon footprint (CF), water footprint (WF), and ecological footprint (EF) and improving health and respecting dietary acceptance under the corresponding scenarios. The results show that CF, WF and EF can be reduced by up to 19%, 15% and 30% respectively, while satisfying nutritional constraints and achieving the minimum deviation from the current food combination. The greatest synergistic benefits for CF, WF and EF are achieved when the minimum CF is the optimization goal; the maximum synergistic benefits for the environment, health and acceptability are achieved when the CF is reduced by 10%. Our findings identify the trade-offs and synergies dietary changes considering nutritional benefits, environmental sustainability and acceptability, and reveal the challenges and opportunities for achieving such synergies. © 2021 Elsevier B.V.

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Journal Article
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Science of the Total Environment
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This is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Science of the Total Environment. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Science of the Total Environment, 779, 2021 DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2021.146497
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29 Apr 2021 10:30
Last Modified:
11 Dec 2022 01:47