Following the release of the Sustainable Development Goals, dietary patterns and guidelines are being revised for their effect on the environment in addition to their health implications. The objective of this study was to evaluate and compare the Environmental Footprints (EFPs) of food consumption patterns among Lebanese adults.
For this study, data for adults aged > 18 years (n = 337) were drawn from a previous national survey conducted in Lebanon (2008-2009), where dietary intake was assessed using a 61-item Food Frequency Questionnaire. Dietary patterns previously derived in the study sample included: Western, Lebanese-Mediterranean and High-Protein. In this study, food consumption and dietary patterns were examined for their EFPs including water use, energy use, and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, using review of life cycle analyses.
In the study population, the EFPs of food consumption were: water use: 2571.62 ± 1259.45 L/day; energy use: 37.34 ± 19.98 MJ/day and GHGs: 4.06 ± 1.93 kg CO2 eq / day. Among the three dietary patterns prevalent in the study population, the Lebanese-Mediterranean diet had the lowest water use and GHG per 1000 Kcal (Water (L/Kg): 443.61 ± 197.15, 243.35 ± 112.0, 264.72 ± 161.67; GHG (KG CO2 eq/day) 0.58 ± 0.32, 0.38 ± 0.24, 0.57 ± 0.37, for the Western, Lebanese-Mediterranean and High- Protein, respectively). The scores of the High-Protein dietary pattern were associated with higher odds of the three EFPs, whereas the Lebanese-Mediterranean dietary pattern was associated with lower odds of energy use. Furthermore, scores of the Western pattern were associated with higher water use.
The findings of this study showed that, among Lebanese adults, the Western and High-Protein dietary patterns had high EFPs, whereas the Lebanese-Mediterranean dietary pattern had lower water use and GHG emissions. Coupled to our earlier findings of the Lebanese-Mediterranean pattern's beneficial effects on health, the findings of this study lend evidence for the notion that what is healthy for people may also be healthy for ecosystems and highlight the need for nutrition recommendations to take into consideration the nexus of water, food, energy, in addition to health.