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How food choices link sociodemographic and lifestyle factors with sustainability impacts

Frehner, A.; van Zanten, H.H.E.; Schader, C.; de Boer, I.J.M.; Pestoni, G.; Rohrmann, S. and Müller, Adrian (2021) How food choices link sociodemographic and lifestyle factors with sustainability impacts. Journal of Cleaner Production, 300 (126896), pp. 1-14.

[thumbnail of frehner-etal-2021-JCleanerProd-Vol300-Article126896-p1-14.pdf] PDF - English
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.


Document available online at: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S095965262101115X


While the production of food causes major environmental impacts and poses social risks, consumption of healthy and nutritious food is essential for human wellbeing. Against this background, action to make current diets more sustainable is needed, which in turn requires knowledge on possibilities for improvement. In this study, we investigated how sociodemographic and lifestyle factors relate to different sustainability impacts of diets in Switzerland using recent dietary recall data (n = 2057). Of each dietary recall, we assessed six impacts: global warming potential, cropland and grassland occupation, social risks, diet quality, and diet cost. We investigated the association between sociodemographic and lifestyle factors and food choices as well as between sociodemographic and lifestyle factors and environmental and socio-economic impacts, and combined these results in a qualitative approach. The median impacts of Swiss dietary recalls were 3.25 kg CO2eq for global warming potential, 4.92 m2 for cropland occupation, and 1.43 m2 for grassland occupation. Further, the median score for social risks was 1.64 e+08 points (Social Hotspots Index), for diet quality 43.65 points (Alternate Healthy Eating Index), and 9.27 CHF for diet cost. Moreover, our results showed that any action on food groups, be it for health, social, or environmental reasons, potentially affects societal groups differently. Nationalities, language regions, age groups, and smoking status seemed particularly distinctive, while income or educational groups seemed hardly relevant. Further, reductions of some food groups, especially different types of meat, offer large potentials for synergies on multiple impact categories. Others, such as fruits and vegetables as well as fish and seafood, result in trade-offs. On the one hand, these food groups contribute to an improved diet quality. On the other hand, these food groups are costly, and the production of fruits and vegetables additionally poses social risks. Our results contribute to target measures to support environmentally-friendly, healthy, and social diets more effectively.

EPrint Type:Journal paper
Keywords:Food consumption, Sustainability, Global warming potential, Land occupation, Social risks, Diet quality, Abacus, FiBL35902, FiBL35136
Agrovoc keywords:
food consumption
Subjects: Food systems > Processing, packaging and transportation
Values, standards and certification > Consumer issues
Food systems > Policy environments and social economy
Environmental aspects
Research affiliation: Switzerland > ETHZ - Agrarwissenschaften
Switzerland > FiBL - Research Institute of Organic Agriculture Switzerland > Society > Consumer research
Switzerland > FiBL - Research Institute of Organic Agriculture Switzerland > Sustainability
Switzerland > Zürich University
Netherlands > Wageningen University & Research (WUR)
Deposited By: Forschungsinstitut für biologischen Landbau, FiBL
ID Code:43245
Deposited On:10 Jan 2022 16:49
Last Modified:16 Feb 2022 13:51
Document Language:English
Refereed:Peer-reviewed and accepted

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