BPEX: A Healthy and Sustainable Diet

UK - BPEX Human Nutrition Manager Maureen Strong writes, "Government dietary guidelines and advice has consistently informed us about the key components of a healthy balanced diet. However, increasingly questions are being asked as to whether food- based dietary guidelines as depicted by the "eatwell" plate can also be a sustainable dietary pattern?"
calendar icon 2 July 2013
clock icon 3 minute read

Initial ‘knee jerk’ reaction to this question has centred on the messages of ‘eating less meat and dairy produce’. This simplistic approach is now being replaced by a more sophisticated debate. It is now recognised that a number of important questions need to be addressed in order for a clearer picture to emerge.

For example, it is as yet unclear what dietary choices consumer would make if their consumption of these foods were to be reduced and the effect this would have on health? Given the demographic changes already underway associated with an ageing population, would certain groups in the population or individuals be more vulnerable? Similarly, it is unclear what impact changes in consumer choice would have on the sustainability of the food supply.

The challenge is complex but following on from the Green Food Project (GFP) published in July 2012, Defra brought together key stakeholders to consider the role that diet and consumption play in the sustainability of the whole food system.

Maureen Strong of BPEX was asked to co-chair a working group tasked with defining the Principles of a Healthy Sustainable Diet. Following lengthy discussion and consideration of existing evidence, or in some instances the lack of evidence, draft headline messages were agreed and condensed into Eight Key Principles.

These along with work from other working groups that considered Consumer Behaviour and Sustainable Consumption and Growth, have now been presented to David Heath MP, Minister of State (chair) and the GFP Steering Group for further consideration.

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