Excessive red and processed meat intake: relations with health and environment in Brazil

Br J Nutr. 2016 Jun;115(11):2011-6. doi: 10.1017/S0007114516000969. Epub 2016 Apr 4.


The aims of the present study were to verify the proportion of population that consumed more red and processed meat than the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) dietary recommendation, to estimate the environmental impact of beef intake and the possible reduction of greenhouse gas emissions if the dietary recommendation was followed. We used the largest, cross-sectional, population-based survey entitled the National Dietary Survey (34 003 participants aged 10-104 years). The usual meat intake was obtained by two food records completed on 2 non-consecutive days. The usual intake was estimated by the multiple source method. The environmental impact was analysed according to estimates of CO2 equivalent emissions from beef intake as a proxy for beef production in Brazil. The red and processed meat intake mean was 88 g/d. More than 80 % of the population consumed more red and processed meat than the WCRF recommendation. Beef was the type of meat most consumed, accounting to almost 50 %. Each person contributed 1005 kg of CO2 equivalents from beef intake in 2008, the same quantity of CO2 produced if a car travelled a distance between the extreme north and south of Brazil (5370 km). The entire Brazilian population contributed more than 191 million tons of CO2 equivalents, which could have been reduced to more than 131 million tons if the dietary recommendation was followed. The present study shows that the magnitude of the excessive red and processed meat intake in Brazil can impact on health and the environment, pointing to the urgency of promoting a sustainable diet.

Keywords: Brazil; Environmental impacts; HBS Household Budget Survey; Meat intake; Sustainable diets; WCRF World Cancer Research Fund.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Animals
  • Brazil
  • Carbon Dioxide
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diet*
  • Environment*
  • Feeding Behavior*
  • Female
  • Health
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Meat Products*
  • Middle Aged
  • Recommended Dietary Allowances*
  • Red Meat*
  • Young Adult


  • Carbon Dioxide