London, Jan 17 (PTI) A ‘planetary health diet’ low on red meat and rich in plant-based foods may help avert the dual crisis of feeding a population of 10 billion by 2050, as well as tackling climate change, according to a study published in The Lancet journal on Thursday. Also Read - What Is Salmonella And Why Has Its Spread Raised Concern For Those Consuming Melons? Check Here

Feeding a growing population of 10 billion people by 2050 with a healthy and sustainable diet will be impossible without transforming eating habits, improving food production, and reducing food waste, researchers said. Also Read - Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe Sentenced to Another Year in Iran Prison

The findings from the EAT-Lancet Commission provides the first scientific targets for a healthy diet from a sustainable food production system that operates within planetary boundaries for food. Also Read - 'Some Evidence' That New UK Coronavirus Strain More Deadly & Transmissible, Warns Boris Johnson

The research, published in The Lancet journal, outlines a planetary health diet consisting of approximately 35 per cent of calories as whole grains and tubers, protein sources mainly from plants.

It also includes about 14 grammes of of red meat per day, and 500 grammes per day of vegetables and fruits.

Moving to this new dietary pattern will require global consumption of foods such as red meat and sugar to decrease by about 50 per cent, while consumption of nuts, fruits, vegetables, and legumes must double, researchers said.

Unhealthy diets are the leading cause of ill-health worldwide and following the diet could avoid approximately 11 million premature deaths per year.

A shift towards the planetary health diet would ensure the global food system. The diet can exist within planetary boundariess for food production such as those for climate change, biodiversity loss, land and freshwater use, as well as nutrient cycles.

Transformation of the global food system is urgently needed as more than 3 billion people are malnourished, and food production is exceeding planetary boundaries — driving climate change, biodiversity loss, pollution due to over-application of nitrogen and phosphorus fertilisers, and unsustainable changes in water and land use.

Human diets inextricably link health and environmental sustainability, and have the potential to nurture both. However, current diets are pushing the Earth beyond its planetary boundaries, while causing ill health.

This puts both people and the planet at risk. Providing healthy diets from sustainable food systems is an immediate challenge as the population continues to grow — projected to reach 10 billion people by 2050 — and get wealthier.

“The food we eat and how we produce it determines the health of people and the planet, and we are currently getting this seriously wrong,” said Tim Lang, of City, University of London in the UK.

“We need a significant overhaul, changing the global food system on a scale not seen before in ways appropriate to each country’s circumstances,” said Lang, one of the commission authors.

“The scientific targets we have devised for a healthy, sustainable diet are an important foundation which will underpin and drive this change,” he said.

The Commission is a 3-year project that brings together 37 experts from 16 countries with expertise in health, nutrition, environmental sustainability, food systems, economics and political governance.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.