Tatiana Zhelezniakova interviews Dr Damien Brown who recounts the challenges of medical humanitarianism, working for MSF and returning to First World medicineWritten by Tatiana Zhelezniakova on 19th April 2017
How a Change in Diet Could Help Reduce Global Climate Change
New research at the University of California has looked into the full effects of adopting a healthy diet, with its impacts spanning from reducing climate change to improving national health services. Ellen Daugherty reports
No, this is not an article encouraging you to go vegan or vegetarian. The research, published in Climatic Change, shows that making relatively small change to your diet could have profound effects on greenhouse emissions, and dramatically improve individual health, which could reduce the pressure on national health care services. All sounds like common sense right? Perhaps, but still huge amount of people do not fully understand the gravity of their dietary decisions. This paper is scientifically proving that if everybody, who is in the position to do so, makes a small change in their diet, there could be huge positive changes in the issues that are affecting our planet the most.
To simulate healthier diets researchers used a model that altered the standard 2000 calorie diet of an average American. Different diets progressively reduced amounts of red and processed meats, increased intake of fruit and veg, and refined grains replaced with whole grains. The results showed that the ‘healthier’ these variables were, the larger the effects on health and greenhouse gas emissions were. Sugar, dairy products, eggs, and non-red meat were not altered in the healthier diet stimulations. “
“These staggering effects were seen with only slight changes to the diet, and did not include cutting anything vital out of your everyday dietary routine
The altered diets reduced the risk of heart disease, bowel cancer, and type 2 diabetes, which consequently would reduce US health care costs by 77-93 billion USD per year. These staggering effects were seen with only slight changes to the diet, and did not include cutting anything vital out of your everyday dietary routine.
Environmental impacts were just as surprising, with healthier diets having the potential to contribute 6-23% of emission reductions of the US Climate Action Plan’s targets.
There is an urgency to improve global healthcare systems, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and this research shows that if a small change to people’s diets was made across the globe, these improvements could be achieved. Countries such as the US is where this change is needed most drastically. However, this will not come from a scientific paper being published, but from campaigning about these findings to the general public. There is a hope that research like this will lead to a tightening of government regulations on unhealthy foods, to encourage people to adopt a healthier lifestyle - not just for themselves, but for the whole planet.