Agriculture is not producing enough fruit and vegetables for the people of the world to eat a nutritionally balanced diet, according to a recent study. (iStock)

Not enough fruit, vegetables for environmental, human health: study

The world is producing too much grain, fat and sugar and not enough fruit, vegetables and plant-based protein to feed the current population a balanced diet, according to a recent study.

‘A big mismatch’

“What we found is that there is a big mismatch between what we produce and what we should produce based on nutritional guidelines,” says Krishna KC, a research scientist at the University of Guelph and lead author of this study.

Nutritional guidelines set out in the Harvard Healthy Eating Plate advise that half a person’s diet should be made up of fruit and vegetables, one quarter to whole grains and the last quarter for protein, fat and dairy. To accomplish this, the world would have to produce 15 servings of fruit and vegetables per person per day. But data from 2011 suggest current agricultural practices only yield five.

If people consumed more plant protein and less animal protein it would be better for the environment. (iStock)

Change would reduce greenhouse gases

If the balance were changed and more fruit and vegetables were produced, it would save land, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and be better for the environment, says KC. And eating more fruit and vegetables would help reduce the incidence of diabetes and obesity and improve human health.

Agricultural production is market driven, but also receives subsidies and research funding from governments. KC says all stakeholders should consider ways of changing their practices to better assure everyone has access to a healthy diet and to reduce the effects of climate change.

The study was published in the journal PLOS ONE.

(photo University of Guelph)

“In order to make human health and environmental health sustainable, we need to move more (to) a plant based diet,” says Krisha KC.

Categories: Environment & Animal Life, Health, International
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