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Designing lifestyle-specific food policies based on nutritional requirements and ecological footprints

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Author(s): Zsófia Vetőné Mózner | Mária Csutora

Journal: Sustainability : Science, Practice and Policy
ISSN 1548-7733

Volume: 9;
Issue: 2;
Start page: 48;
Date: 2013;
Original page

Keywords: food consumption | diets | nutrition | environmental impact | health policy | occupational health

ABSTRACT
Expanded understanding of the trends and determinants of food consumption is needed to reduce the ecological impacts of the contemporary agro-food system while also being attentive to broader issues pertaining to health and the environment. Incorporating these additional aspects and formulating meaningful dietary recommendations is a major challenge. This article seeks to highlight differences in ecological footprint (EF) by activity level for various social groups to meet suggested physiological requirements by nutritionists versus actual food consumption. The study is based on a combination of healthy diet requirements (as expressed by national guidelines) and a survey of a representative sample of 1,013 Hungarian adults using a bottom-up approach for calculating EFs. Students and women with small children have a higher than average food-related EF due to their higher nutritional needs. At the same time, the elderly are characterized by lower footprints. Perhaps most interesting is our finding that people with sedentary forms of employment have higher food footprints than those with jobs that require physical labor. We offer recommendations for food-policy planning based on encouraging dietary changes for individuals, differentiated by the nature of their work. The research suggests that dietary policy that improves health often has environmental benefits.

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