Sustainable Healthy Nutrition

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Guest Editor
Dr. Christopher A Birt
Department of Public Health and Policy, Universityof Liverpool, Whelan Building, The Quadrangle, Brownlow Hill, Liverpool, L69 3GB, UK

Manuscript Topics
Nutrition has been mainly culturally-based since times immemorial; people have eaten the foods which could be produced easily locally, and these were all assumed to be healthy [1]. Nutrition did not begin to be studied scientifically until early in the twentieth century, and although it had some successes (such as when Boyd Orr from the Aberdeen Rowett Research Institute in Aberdeen was asked by Winston Churchill to design a science-based diet to keep the UK population healthy in WW2 [2]), outside academia public health nutrition was not really taken seriously until the 1980s. By this time it was becoming apparent that, especially in many developed countries, populations were eating too much protein of animal origin, and too little fruit and vegetables, including too little fibre; diets contained too many carcinogens from red meat, too much saturated fat, and a deficiency in anti-oxidants [3,4]. NGOs and even some politicians began to speak in favour of promoting healthier diets.

However, in the 1990s environmental risks to planetary health began to be understood, and by the Kyoto Conference on Climate Change in 1997 it had become clear that farming (especially the farming of animals, especially cows) contributed more to global warming gases world wide than did any other industry [5]! There is increasing evidence that moving diets across the world away from red meat and towards increased consumption of fruit and vegetables will improve both human and planetary health [6]; indeed, such dietary change may be essential if climate change is to be limited to within safe levels. The further it is possible to move towards vegetarianism (and even towards veganism), the better. In practice, the most realistic healthy and sustainable diets appear to be the Mediterranean Diet or the New Nordic Diet [6].

What has been rather lacking is research that brings together scientists working in both public health nutrition and sustainability [6]. What is most needed, certainly in Europe, and probably elsewhere too, is the establishment of a widely-based nutrition research infrastructure, capable of promoting and financing research on food production, distribution and consumption, from field to fork; this would need to include agricultural scientists, public health nutrition scientists, clinical nutrition scientists, and social scientists of various kinds (e.g. in sociology, economics and political science).

AIMS Public Health has included a special issue dedicated to "Sustainable Healthy Nutrition" and encourages submissions of papers. Submissions should include the links between healthy nutrition and sustainability, how research infrastructures might better respond to the challenges posed by both "healthiness" and "sustainability" in nutrition, and on how public policy needs also to respond to the requirements of both healthy nutrition and sustainability.

1. Lains P, Pinella V (2009) Agriculture and Economic Development in Europe since 1870. London: Routledge.
2. Nobel Peace Prize (1949) Lord Boyd Orr-Biographical. Available from:
3. Lloyd-Williams F, O'Flaherty M, Mwatsama M, et al. (2008) Estimating the cardiovascular mortality burden attributable to the European Common Agricultural Policy on dietary saturated fats. Bull World Health Organ 86: 535-41a.
4. Walker CL (1983) Nutrition: The changing scene. Implementing the NACNE report 3. The new British diet. Lancet 2: 1354-6.
5. Gerber PI, Steinfeld H, Henderson B, et al. Tackling Climate Change Through Livestock — A Global Assessment of Emissions and Mitigation Opportunities. Available from: http://www.fao.ord/docrep/018/i3437e/i3437e.pdf.
6. Lafranconi A, Birt C (2015) How best to use the EXPO momentum to improve our food environment? Eur J Public Health 25: 751-2.

Paper submission
All manuscripts will be peer-reviewed before their acceptance for publication.
The deadline for manuscript submission is March 28th, 2018.

Instructions for authors
Please submit your manuscript to online submission system

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