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Balancing a sustained pursuit of nutrition, health, affordability and climate goals: exploring the case of Indonesia

September 03, 2021
The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition

Saskia de Pee, Ridwan Hardinsyah, Fasli Jalal, Brent F Kim, Richard D Semba, Amy Deptford, Jessica C Fanzo, Rebecca Ramsing, Keeve E Nachman, Shawn McKenzie, Martin W Bloem

Healthy diets produced by sustainable food systems are required for better human and planetary health. The FAO and WHO recently defined sustainable healthy diets as “dietary patterns that promote all dimensions of individuals’ health and wellbeing; have low environmental pressure and impact; are accessible, affordable, safe and equitable; and are culturally acceptable” (1). Identifying and realizing dietary patterns that could meet all these goals is the challenge that is upon all of us for this decade and is a major theme for the UN Food Systems Summit 2021.

It is clear that massive change is required of food systems, including people's diets (2, 3). Food systems are localized but very much influenced by factors such as climate change, population growth, urbanization, and global trade (4). Improving diets to eliminate malnutrition in all its forms, while mitigating climate change, freshwater depletion, and other environmental impacts, requires a critical examination of current and possible future diets and of factors affecting food production to inform research, development, and planning. The EAT-Lancet commission proposed a planetary health diet that would promote health, in particular by lowering the noncommunicable disease (NCD) burden, and would reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHGe) from food production and consumption worldwide by up to 80% (5). That diet, however, exceeded the income of at least 1.6 billion people (6). Furthermore, a recent analysis has shown that adopting the EAT-Lancet planetary health diet today, using current food production methods, would reduce GHGe in 101 countries, increase them in 36, and leave them virtually unchanged in 14 (7).