A farmer with her grown cucumber, benefiting from a Commercial Agriculture Development Project in Nepal © Asia Development Bank

Improve diets now for better personal and planetary health - Lancet report

16th January 2019

Unhealthy diets are the leading cause of ill-health worldwide but following a healthy and sustainable diet could avoid roughly 11 million premature deaths per year, says a new report by the EAT-Lancet Commission.

Without such a transition - along with improved food production and less food waste -  feeding a growing population of 10 billion people by 2050 will be impossible, adds the report.

The findings are from the EAT-Lancet Commission, Food in the Anthropocene: the EAT–Lancet Commission on healthy diets from sustainable food systems, which provides the first scientific targets for a healthy diet from a sustainable food production system that operates within planetary boundaries for food. The report promotes diets consisting of a variety of plant-based foods, with low amounts of animal-based foods, refined grains, highly processed foods and added sugars, and with unsaturated rather than saturated fats.

“The transformation that this Commission calls for is not superficial or simple, and requires a focus on complex systems, incentives, and regulations, with communities and governments at multiple levels having a part to play in redefining how we eat" - Dr. Richard Horton, Lancet Editor-in-Chief

“The transformation that this Commission calls for is not superficial or simple, and requires a focus on complex systems, incentives, and regulations, with communities and governments at multiple levels having a part to play in redefining how we eat," says Dr. Richard Horton, Editor-in-Chief of The Lancet.

Connection with nature is key

"Our connection with nature holds the answer, and if we can eat in a way that works for our planet as well as our bodies, the natural balance of the planet’s resources will be restored. The very nature that is disappearing holds the key to human and planetary survival,” Horton adds.

Transformation of the global food system is urgently needed as more than 3 billion people are malnourished (including people who are undernourished and overnourished). Food production is exceeding planetary boundaries – driving climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution due to over-application of nitrogen and phosphorus fertilizers, and unsustainable changes in water and land use.

The Commission is a 3-year project that brings together 37 experts from 16 countries with expertise in health, nutrition, environmental sustainability, food systems, economics and political governance.
 

See the full report