Eco/Env English
Greenhouse Gases Vulnerable to National Diet Improvements
2017-12-29 00:00:00
Cedric Dent

Healthy living, as well as health conditions that are typically viewed as either strictly dietary or a product of diet and exercise, may actually be overlooking a critical facet like the environment, according to new studies. Pundits say that a healthier diet is also the best diet for protecting the environment by reducing your carbon footprint. The production of food is, of course, incredibly critical amid the global food shortage, and it also accounts for a massive industry for so many economies of all shapes and sizes worldwide. Nevertheless, as much of an economic asset as agriculture is as an industry (i.e. employment for large swaths of populaces, efficient food production, etc.), it also accounts for as much as a third of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Dietary suggestions from the British government usually concentrate on the nutritional value of any food item, and they don’t take the environment into consideration much. A new study is now saying that carbon-footprint moderation and healthy dieting actually go together perfectly. The study’s international span of 37 countries collectively make up two-thirds of the world population. The study found positive results in most of these countries but not with even distribution. Positive results were more prevalent in Japan, the US, and other high-income countries.

If these populations in these high-income economies were to ascribe to nationally recommended diets that were aimed at mitigating greenhouse gas emissions, they could cut emissions by about a 25 percent in comparison to what’s emitted from the diets people normally choose for themselves based on the results of the study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. They also observed evidence that this would greatly mitigate water pollution as well as pollution on land.

“In the higher income nations, it turns out that what’s good for our health is also good for the environment,” says Paul Behrens, a Leiden University researcher and lead author on the study. On the other hand, if the same practices were implemented in low-income countries, that would surprisingly impinge on environmental progress by enlarging their biological footprints. This is the case even for the nationally recommended dietary guidelines aimed at reducing the footprint in high-income countries.

For these guidelines to be applied the world over would reduce the international footprint regardless, but the striking data indicates that low-income countries eat completely differently and in a way that doesn’t negatively impact the global environment to anywhere near the same degree. “It’s win-win,” according to Behrens.

There would also have to be distinct differences in these nationally recommended diets from one country to another. Even among high-income nations, there would be the necessity to change diets for the peoples of each country and know that changes in the UK, for example, would not be able to match those made in India. Starting points are different and not just economically but also culturally. The recommended diet in the UK would require greatly lowering the calorie consumption whereas calorie consumption in India would have to go up based on what agricultural changes would have to be made.

High-income countries overall tend to indulge considerably in dairy products as well as oils, meat and sugars. Reducing the consumption of animal products in these countries would play a vital role in mitigating the environmental footprint that their average diets represent according to the study. Consuming less calories and shifting to what amounts to a certain kind of vegetarian diet was strongly suggested by the study to be an optimal means of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and otherwise mitigating the scope of mankind’s environmental footprint.

Similarly interesting, though, is that certain groups within these high-income countries are inordinately vulnerable to certain conditions that a brand new study asserts may be more than just about dieting. For example, it’s fairly well known in the US, the UK, the West Indies, and anywhere in the Diaspora that Africans who survived the trans-Atlantic slave trade to be forced into labor in other countries and distributed throughout the Diaspora all shared the common trait of being diabetic. Inordinately high blood sugar is the explanation most commonly credited for slaves surviving the long, incredibly unsanitary and invariably hot voyages across the Atlantic without sufficient food and nourishment.

This new study, though, explains why Blacks aren’t the only minority uniquely afflicted with diabetes. Latinos, whose collective experience is historically different, are also at greater risk for diabetes. For that matter, low-income Americans in general find this to be the case. The study submits new findings that explain this phenomenon as actually being the product of dangerous endocrine-disrupting chemicals that exist in the environment.

Published in the medical science journal, Diabetes Care, the environmental study drew some of its data from the National Diabetes Statistics Report that comes out annually, and researchers found diabetes to be abnormally prevalent among Native American ethnic groups (15.1 percent). The same was found for non-Hispanic Blacks (12.7 percent) as well as Hispanic ethnic groups (12.1 percent). These figures contrast somewhat starkly with that of non-Hispanic Whites (7.4 percent) and Asians (8 percent). The authors of the environmental study attribute this to organochlorine pesticides used to keep mosquitos at bay on farmland, polychlorinated biphenyls used in electrical equipment (among other things), and at least five other chemical threats necessitated by everyday life in the West.

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