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Meats and ultra-processed foods in the Brazilians' diet: potential to reduce carbon footprint and water footprint by adapting the effective food consumption with cancer prevention recommendations.
conference contributionposted on 2019-12-10, 00:00 authored by Josefa Garzillo, Priscila Pereira Machado, Maria Laura da Costa Louzada, Carla Martins, Renata Levy, Carlos Monteiro
World Cancer Research Found International recommends eat at least 400g of fruits and vegetables daily; limit red meat between 350 to 500g per week; avoid processed meats, sugary drinks and ultraprocessed foods to prevent cancer. How much these recommendations would contribute to reduce carbon and water footprints from average food consumption in Brazil was estimated, also analyzing scenarios of effective consumption of meats (except fish). Using food consumption data of the Brazilian population (≥10 years, n = 34,003) from the National Household Budget Survey (2008-09) and the Table of Foods and Culinary Preparations Footprints of the Center for Epidemiological Research in Nutrition and Health, environmental impacts were estimated. The average food intake of Brazilians was compared to six scenarios equalized in 2000kcal (a simulated diet based on recommendations and quintiles of population strata according to dietary energy intake from meats). The average consumption was: fruits (186g), vegetables (88g), red meat (77g), processed (9g) and ultra-processed (11g) meats, with 18.4% of caloric intake from ultra-processed drinks and foods. The carbon (4.1kgCO2eq) and water (4124 liters) footprints estimated for the average Brazilian diet were, respectively, 17% and 18% higher compared to the footprints for the simulated scenario with recommendations. Quintiles (Q1 and Q2) with lower meats intake (red: 6g and 46g; processed: 0.4 and 3g; and ultra-processed: 2 and 8g) presented the lowest carbon (2.1 and 3.2 kgCO2eq) and water (2184 and 3359 liters) footprints. However, the consumption of vegetables with protective effects remained low and the caloric intake from ultra-processed foods was above the average (22% and 23%). Adapting the average food consumption of Brazilians to WCRFI recommendations would reduce annually 51 GgCO2eq and 54,239 km3 of water considering 200 million people. In the Brazilian context, adherence to these recommendations would protect population’s health while reducing environmental impacts.