Comparing nutritional, economic, and environmental performances of diets according to their levels of greenhouse gas emissions

  • Louise Seconda
  • Julia Baudry
  • Benjamin Allès
  • Christine Boizot-Szantai
  • Louis-Georges Soler
  • Pilar Galan
  • Serge Hercberg
  • Brigitte Langevin
  • Denis Lairon
  • Philippe Pointereau
  • Emmanuelle Kesse-Guyot
Article

Abstract

In response to climate change, reduction of GHGEs (greenhouse gas emissions) from food systems is required. Shifts of agricultural practices and dietary patterns could reduce GHGEs. We aimed to characterize observed diets with different levels of GHGEs and compare their nutritional, economic, and environmental performances. Food consumptions of 34,193 French adults participating in the NutriNet-Santé Cohort were assessed using a food frequency questionnaire. Nutritional, environmental, and economic indicators were computed for each individual diet. Adjusted means of food group intakes, contribution of food groups to dietary GHGEs, nutritional, environmental, and economic indicators were compared between weighted quintiles of GHGEs. Diets with high GHGEs (ranging from 2318 to 4099 kgCO2eq/year) contained more animal-based food and provided more calories. Few differences were found for unhealthy food (alcohol or sweet/fatty food) consumption across the categories of dietary GHGEs. Diets with low GHGEs were characterized by a high nutritional quality. Primary energy consumption and land occupation increased with GHGEs (from Q1: 3978 MJ/year (95%CI = 3958–3997) to Q5: 8980 MJ/year (95%CI = 8924–9036)) and (from Q1: 1693 m2/year (95%CI = 1683–1702) to Q5: 7188 m2/year (95%CI = 7139–7238)), respectively. Finally, participants with lower GHGE related-diets were the highest organic food consumers. After adjustment for sex, age, and energy intake, monetary diet cost increased with GHGEs (from Q1: 6.89€/year (95%CI = 6.84–6.93) to Q5: 7.68€/year (95%CI = 7.62–7.74)). Based on large observational cohort, this study provides new insights concerning the potential of current healthy and emergent diets with low monetary cost and good nutritional quality to promote climate mitigation. However, the question of a large acceptability remains.

Keywords

Climate change Dietary pattern Greenhouse gas emissions Organic food 

Abbreviations

AMAPs

Associations supporting small farming

ANCOVA

Analysis of covariance

BMI

Body Mass Index

CI

Confidence intervals

CU

Consumption unit

CH4

Methane

CO2

Carbon dioxide

GHG

Greenhouse gas

GHGEs

Greenhouse gas emissions

INSEE

National Institute of Statistical and Economic Studies

IPAQ

International Physical Activity Questionnaires

IPCC

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

LCA

Life Cycle Assessment

mPNNS-GS

modified Programme National Nutrition Santé Guidelines Score

N2O

Nitrous oxide

Org-FFQ

Organic Food Frequency Questionnaire

PANDiet

Diet Quality Index Based on the Probability of Adequate Nutrient Intake

Q

Quintile

UK

United Kingdom

WHO

World Health Organization

Notes

Acknowledgments

We especially thank Younes Esseddik, Paul Flanzy, Thi Hong Van Duong, Veronique Gourlet, Fabien Szabo, Nathalie Arnault, Laurent Bourhis and Stephen Besseau, Cédric Agaësse, Claudia Chahine, and the Bioconsom’acteurs’ members. We warmly thank all of the dedicated and conscientious volunteers involved in the Nutrinet-Santé Cohort.

Compliance with ethical standards

The study was conducted observing the guidelines from the Declaration of Helsinki, and all protocols were approved by the Institutional Review Board of the French Institute for Health and Medical Research (IRB INSERM no. 0000388FWA00005831) and the Commission Nationale de l’Informatique et des Libertés (CNIL no. 908450 and no. 909216). Participant informed consents were signed by all volunteers with an electronic signature. The NutriNet-Santé Study is registered in ClinicalTrials.gov (NCT03335644).

Supplementary material

10584_2018_2195_MOESM1_ESM.docx (16 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 16.4 kb)
10584_2018_2195_MOESM2_ESM.docx (180 kb)
ESM 2 (DOCX 180 kb)

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Louise Seconda
    • 1
    • 2
  • Julia Baudry
    • 1
  • Benjamin Allès
    • 1
  • Christine Boizot-Szantai
    • 3
  • Louis-Georges Soler
    • 3
  • Pilar Galan
    • 1
  • Serge Hercberg
    • 1
    • 4
  • Brigitte Langevin
    • 5
  • Denis Lairon
    • 6
  • Philippe Pointereau
    • 5
  • Emmanuelle Kesse-Guyot
    • 1
  1. 1.Equipe de Recherche en Epidémiologie Nutritionnelle (EREN), Inserm (U1153), Inra (U1125), Centre d’Epidémiologie et Statistiques Paris Cité, Cnam, COMUE Sorbonne-Paris-CitéUniversité Paris 13BobignyFrance
  2. 2.Agence de l’Environnement et de la maîtrise de l’EnergieAngers Cedex 01France
  3. 3.INRA Aliss UR 1303Ivry sur SeineFrance
  4. 4.Département de Santé PubliqueHôpital AvicenneBobignyFrance
  5. 5.SolagroToulouseFrance
  6. 6.Nutrition, Obésité et Risque Thrombotique (NORT), INSERM, UMR S 1062, INRA 1260Aix Marseille UniversitéMarseilleFrance

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