Food transition: what climate does to health

The climate is changing, that's for sure

Food transition: what climate does to health

The climate is changing, that's for sure. According to some studies, a 1°C increase in average temperature is equivalent to moving crops 150 kilometers further north in latitude and 150 meters in elevation. In the future, the average global yields of agricultural crops will decrease by an average of 2%, but with large disparities depending on the region. This will notably be the case for rice, corn and wheat, which provide 60% of the calories consumed globally. Interview with Béatrice de Reynal, nutritionist and food marketing specialist, author of Open your eyes before you open your mouth, published by Robert Laffont.

The Point: What diet should we adopt to satisfy our health and that of the planet?

Béatrice de Reynal: Let's start with an overview. Overweight and obesity are the leading risk factors for death worldwide. About 3.4 million adults die from it every year. In addition, 44% of the diabetes burden, 23% of the ischemic heart disease burden, and 7% to 41% of the burden of certain cancers are attributable to overweight and obesity. The world currently has 150 million obese children and adolescents, a number that is expected to reach 250 million by 2030.

The WHO also aims to stop the increase in the number of cases of childhood obesity by 2025. One in two French people is overweight or obese. One in two Americans is obese. In short, we are too big. It's too expensive and it's too polluting. So let's be logical: cut a fork to our fork, in other words, reduce the content of our plates by 15%, our ideal weight and health will be less at risk.

What about meat specifically?

Worldwide, approximately 60% of daily protein intake comes from plant proteins. This ratio is reversed in developed countries. Proteins from meat represent 34% of global consumption. With an expected world population of 9.6 billion people in 2050 (compared to 7.2 today), experts estimate that plant proteins will replace ¾ of the animal products consumed today.

Concerning intensive farming, they are very harmful for the environment (greenhouse gas, CO2, in addition to animal discomfort). Moreover, the Netherlands voted to eliminate a third of their cattle in order to satisfy European environmental rules. So 1/3 of milk, butter and cheese production will disappear. It's very good for the environment, maybe less so for breeders… And on calcium intake for the Dutch…

On the other hand, extensive farming is less bad for the planet because part of the CO2 is reincorporated into the soil. In addition, animals occupy areas inaccessible to other crops: mountain pastures, moors and causses... We must therefore review the uses that are made of the soil.

Are deficiencies to be feared?

In Europe, certainly no protein deficiency: we already consume at least 20% too much, mainly animal! Be careful, however: red meat is rich in iron, and small children, young girls and women are deficient in iron intake. This element is not only central to red blood cells and muscle cells, but also involved in the cognitive development of the developing baby. Vegetable products contain non-heme iron, which is difficult to assimilate. It is one of the most costly nutritional deficiencies in European states, along with calcium. It is therefore necessary to ensure an adequate supply of the vitamins and minerals necessary for the proper functioning of the body, and this at all ages of life. Possibly by means of nutritional supplements, in the event of a diet excluding animal proteins.

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