Emerging Research Summaries

Our convenient Emerging Research Summaries focus on research by and for Dietitians-Nutritionists, but other relevant research is also included. We provide you with all the main points of the study aiming to improve access to information: Relevant audience; Bottom line for nutrition practice; Summary of results; External relevant links; and more. The purpose of this approach is to support access to peer-reviewed evidence, as many dietitians around the world do not have access to journals or Practice-Based Evidence in Nutrition (PEN).

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Feedback? Questions? Ideas? Contact the ICDA SFS Coordinator:  ICDAsfs.coordinator@acadiau.ca

We sought to develop a new dietary index to quantify adherence to the EAT-Lancet diet and assess its association with mortality in a large, population-based Swedish cohort. A large population study from Lund University in Sweden has shown that more sustainable dietary habits are linked to health benefits, such as a reduced risk of premature death from cardiovascular disease and cancer.

This qualitative study aimed to explore young Australians’ perspectives, motivators and current practices in achieving a sustainable and healthy diet. The majority of participants were aware of some aspects of a sustainable and healthy diet and indicated the need to reduce meat intake, increase intake of plant-based foods, reduce food wastage and packaging and reduce food miles.

This resource is based off of a qualitative study in Australia that analyzes the perspectives of staff on how hospital foodservice is sustainable, how it is not sustainable, some barriers they face to becoming more sustainable, and what can be done to implement more sustainable practices. Some practices mentioned throughout the study included "power of individuals to influence change, education on recycling, knowledge generation, audits and grants for innovative research, rebates and quality improvement processes". This resource discusses the outcome of the study from the participants perspectives in which the participants proposed ways to meet these practices by making "changes across the food supply chain and recommended generation and sharing of knowledge, leadership and policy support".

Addressing overconsumption of protein-rich foods from high ecological footprint sources can have positive impacts on health such as reduction of non-communicable disease risk and protecting the natural environment. With the increased attention towards development of ecologically sustainable diets, this systematic review aimed to critically review literature on effectiveness of those interventions aiming to promote protein-rich foods from lower ecological footprint sources.

Dietitians-Nutritionists can play a role in all three principles (e.g., health promotion and disease prevention; advocating for Dietitian-Nutritionist services for appropriate disease intervention; decreasing emissions in the supply chain through sustainable procurement practices). They can also promote sustainable diets through policy, promotion, education, and counselling.

The authors analyzed input-output data from 189 countries between 2000-2015 to provide a global assessment of wide-ranging environmental impacts of the health care sector. They measured seven environmental indicators, including: greenhouse gas emissions, particulate matter, air pollutants (nitrogen oxides and sulphur dioxide), malaria risk, nitrogen loss to water, and water use.

This scoping review identifies and maps healthy and environmentally sustainable diet-related policies implemented by urban local governments within the 199 signatory cities of the Milan Urban Food Policy Pact (MUFPP).

To understand, monitor and compare the scope of food waste in hospital foodservices, it is essential to measure food waste using a standardised method. This review used published evidence to develop the first ever food waste audit consensus tool for hospital foodservices to use and measure food and food-related waste. Future research is needed to apply and test this tool in practice.

This paper addresses: how COVID-19 affected food systems and food governance; three transitions necessary to better address future needs; policy and research recommendations. It is relevant to Dietitians-Nutritionists working in research and policy development, those interested in the impacts of COVID-19 on sustainable food system. It is most relevant to the European context, but many observations are relevant globally.

This article is a commentary on the ways that corporate concentration impacts the food system, and proposes measures that can be taken to confront this concentration. It is relevant to Dietitians-Nutritionists interested in how corporate power influences the food system.

The authors developed a consumer guide for plant-based products which uses multiple environmental indicators (climate, biodiversity, water, and pesticide use). It was developed with WWF Sweden for the Swedish market. This paper focuses on the methods of development. This research is relevant to Dietitians-Nutritionists in Europe will be interested in the results of the environmental rating of plant-based products and in the links for the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) guides on meat developed by the same authors - see “Of additional interest”. The article is also of interest for those wanting a greater understanding of the challenges of environmental rating of plant-based products.

This review examines sustainability, ethical and health considerations and challenges for consuming a more plant-based protein diet from a public health perspective, including whether plant-based diets supply enough and adequate quality protein. The article also discusses potential strategies to formulate messages to advance the shift toward an increase in plant-based protein diets. This is relevant to all Dietitians-Nutritionists

This commentary poses practice and research questions about the nutrition and environmental consequences of the increased production and intake of ultra-processed plant-based meat and dairy substitutes. Their commentary reflects upon results from a study also reviewed on this website: Gehring J, Touvier M, Baudry J, Julia C, Buscail C, Srour B, et al. Consumption of Ultra-Processed Foods by Pesco-Vegetarians, Vegetarians, and Vegans: Associations with Duration and Age at Diet Initiation. The Journal of Nutrition. 2020;151(1):120-31.

This study assessed the intake of ultra-processed foods (UPFs) and unprocessed foods within a group of meat eaters and vegetarians (pesco-vegetarians, vegetarians, and vegans) in France. The nutritional quality of the plant-based foods was also assessed, as well as the determinants of UPF consumption for the vegetarians.

The authors provide an overview of the changes in global aquaculture from 1997 to 2017 through a review of relevant literature. Aquaculture refers to the practice of breeding, growing, and harvesting fish, shellfish, and aquatic plants.

This paper compiles existing research to provide an ambitious review of four questions: i) how projections of global diet transitions translates into an increasing impact on human and environmental health; ii) how transitions to healthier diets can advance environmental targets; iii) how shifting to healthy diets might contribute to sustainable food systems in four dissimilar countries (using case studies); iv) steps that governments and business can take to advance sustainable and healthy diets.

In addition to the results comparing the climate impacts of the two systems of meat production, this is of particular interest to Dietitians-Nutritionists who desire a deeper understanding of the differences that varying climate change metrics make on measuring the impacts of food production. The authors compare cultured meat and beef system emissions on climate change. Rather than using the typical warming impact measurement of carbon dioxide equivalent comparisons, they use an atmospheric modeling approach. Three different consumption scenarios are predicted up to 1000 years in the future.

Relevant to most dietitian-nutritionists interested in food systems sustainability, this articles examines life cycle assessment studies to compare the environmental impacts* of different: agricultural production systems, agricultural input efficiencies, and foods. This includes (but is not limited to), an analysis of grass-fed and grain-fed beef; trawling and non-trawling fisheries; and greenhouse grown and field produce. Eighty-six % of the publications were from highly industrialized systems in Europe, North America, and Australia and New Zealand. Though authors support that plant-based foods have the lowest environmental impacts, the results illustrate that environmental impacts of agricultural production systems are different depending on which systems, food, and environmental indicators are examined.

Relevant to most dietitian-nutritionists trying to better understand the sustainability of meat alternatives, this article compares the environmental impacts of different meat substitutes. Multiple environmental impacts were measured, and assessed by weight (kilograms), energy (kilojoules) and protein (grams). The authors estimated impacts from the stage of raw resources to (including) consumer use.

This study uses a social cost-benefit analysis to estimate the impacts of three scenarios - a 15% and 30% tax on meat, and a 10% subsidy on fruit and vegetable consumption – for the year 2048 (30 years hence) in the Netherlands. This article is relevant to dietitian-nutritionists in most practice areas who have an interest in public policy options for shifting dietary patterns toward more sustainable.

This article is of relevance to almost all Dietitian-Nutritionists, as it provides insight into the health vs. environment co-benefits and trade-offs dialogue. It integrates nutritional epidemiology and food system science methods to evaluate the relationship between diet quality and environmental sustainability, while also taking food loss and waste into account. This study is unique to previous studies in that it assesses individual, self-selected diet patterns (I.e., what people actually eat), instead of theoretical diets that follow specific dietary recommendations (e.g., national guidelines or vegetarian diets). Further, it examines environmental impacts beyond climate change.

This study investigated the size and scope of literature, and the processes and roles related to sustainable diet promotion within health care systems. Twelve appropriate studies were identified, and the data was used to develop a framework of the key elements needed to advance the promotion of sustainable diets within health services. This article is relevant to Dietitians-Nutritionists in the health care and education sectors.

This commentary type article uses a Māori perspective to examine the relationships between climate change and Indigenous health, and proposes implications for health promotion. This article is relevant to public health Dietitians-Nutritionists working in any type of health promotion. While based on the perspectives of the Māori (the Indigenous people of Aotearoa/New Zealand), the ideas are relevant to all working in climate action.

This research article explores an Australian study that compared plant-based meat substitutes that mimicked meat with equivalent meat products; it examined ingredients, nutrition information panel, health and nutrition claims, Health Star Rating (Australian), and any additional logos and endorsements. The study did not include traditional vegetarian meat alternatives such as such as tofu, tempeh, and falafel. This is relevant to public health Dietitians-Nutritionists working on government policy and Dietitians-Nutritionists in education and nutrition care.

This systematic review of 20 studies identified factors that influence health professionals’ practice of integrating sustainable nutrition into their work. Most studies (70%) focused on dietitians and were conducted in “Western” countries; systematic reviews or position papers were not included. The terms “sustainable nutrition” and “sustainable diets” are used interchangeably in the study. It is relevant to Dietitians-Nutritionists working in health-related institutions.

This research article explores the editorial comments on the collection of papers in the supplement issue of the Global Health Promotion Journal “Whenua Ora: Healthy Lands, Healthy Peoples” (2019). This is relevant for public health Dietitians-Nutritionists working in any type of health promotion and/or climate action.

This Australian study explored nutrition and dietetic undergraduate students’ self-reported views and actions related to sustainability, with a view to building a holistic curriculum that includes content and competencies required to address UN Sustainable Development Goals. This research article is relevant to dietetic and nutrition educators.

This research article consists of a systematic review of 80 studies across the globe examined: environmental and associated economic impacts of foodservice; outcomes of strategies that aim to advance environmental sustainability; and perspectives of stakeholder – across the hospital supply chain. This article is relevant to Dietitians-Nutritionists working clinical, administrative or food-service roles in hospitals, particularly for those working on policy development or menu redesign for sustainability.

Feedback? Questions? Ideas? Contact the ICDA SFS Coordinator:  ICDAsfs.coordinator@acadiau.ca