Greenhouse gas emission of diets in the Netherlands and associations with food, energy and macronutrient intakes

Public Health Nutr. 2015 Sep;18(13):2433-45. doi: 10.1017/S1368980014002821. Epub 2014 Dec 29.


Objective: To evaluate the greenhouse gas emission (GHGE) of diets in Dutch girls, boys, women and men and to explore associations with diet composition.

Design: Descriptive analyses for the total population as well as stratified for gender, age and dietary environmental load.

Setting: The Netherlands.

Subjects: Dutch children and adults aged 7-69 years (n 3818).

Results: The GHGE of daily diets was on average 3·2 kg CO2-equivalents (CO2e) for girls, 3·6 kg CO2e for boys, 3·7 kg CO2e for women and 4·8 kg CO2e for men. Meat and cheese contributed about 40 % and drinks (including milk and alcoholic drinks) 20 % to daily GHGE. Considerable differences in environmental loads of diets existed within age and gender groups. Persons with higher-GHGE diets consumed more (in quantity of foods and especially drinks) than their counterparts of a similar sex and age with low-GHGE diets. Major differences between high- and low-GHGE diets were in meat, cheese and dairy consumption as well as in soft drinks (girls, boys and women) and alcoholic drinks (men). Of those, differences in meat consumption determined the differences in GHGE most. Diets with higher GHGE were associated with higher saturated fat intake and lower fibre intake

Conclusions: GHGE of daily diets in the Netherlands is between 3 and 5 kg CO2e, with considerable differences between individuals. Meat, dairy and drinks contribute most to GHGE. The insights of the study may be used in developing (age- and gender-specific) food-based dietary guidelines that take into account both health and sustainability aspects.

Keywords: Food consumption; Greenhouse gas emissions; Nutrients; Sustainability.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Beverages / adverse effects
  • Child
  • Conservation of Natural Resources
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Dairy Products / adverse effects
  • Diet* / adverse effects
  • Energy Intake*
  • Environmental Policy*
  • Female
  • Food Supply*
  • Greenhouse Effect*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Meat / adverse effects
  • Netherlands
  • Nutrition Policy*
  • Nutrition Surveys
  • Patient Compliance*
  • Program Evaluation