Evidence to define the sustainability of a healthy diet

Funding Agency: DEFRA

Date: 2010 – 2011

Principal Investigator: Professor Andrew Fearne

Our food system and diet strongly influence our health and the environment and there is great pressure to ensure that our food production and consumption is both health-promoting and sustainable. It is also necessary to provide consumers clear and consistent information on the impact of our food choices.

Although there is no clear cut definition of “sustainability”, it is generally accepted that there are three “pillars” of importance: environmental, economic and social. A sustainable diet has many attributes across these pillars and there may be synergies and trade-offs between them.

Policies on sustainable consumption need to be underpinned by research to provide the necessary evidence base. The aim of this study has been to identify gaps in the knowledge base by defining and evaluating food chains that contribute to healthy diets (as described by the eatwell plate) and to evaluate the nature, extent and robustness of evidence for their attributes of sustainability.

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