Post-pandemic diet changes could avert millions of deaths


The Lancet Planetary Health (2022). DOI: 10.1016/S2542-5196(22)00144-9″ width=”800″ height=”530″/>

Changes in land use, fertilizer application and irrigation water withdrawal for each scenario, 2060 versus 2019 Lines show the result of the mid-run and ribbons show the uncertainty associated with the 30 assists from Monte Carlo. Box plots show levels in 2060 including outliers. Credit: The Planetary Health of the Lancet (2022). DOI: 10.1016/S2542-5196(22)00144-9

Encouraging people to eat more fruits and vegetables after the pandemic could prevent up to 26 million deaths each year by 2060, a study has found.

Premature deaths from diseases such as heart disease, stroke and cancer – conditions that are also risk factors for patients with COVID-19 – could be prevented by including measures to reduce the global meat consumption in stimulus packages, researchers say.

According to the analysis, reducing the amount of meat consumed globally would also make food more affordable, especially in low- and middle-income countries, and be better for the environment.

The results suggest that post-pandemic plans that prioritize economic recovery above all else would result in millions of additional deaths linked to poor diets, be worse for the environment and do less to reduce food costs.

COVID-19 recovery

Governments around the world have committed trillions of pounds to recover from the unprecedented impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Today, researchers have completed the first global analysis of the long-term effects of different stimulus packages on global health, the environment and the cost of food.

The results could inform the development of strategies to improve global health and food accessibility and help limit the impacts of climate change.

Dietary changes

A team led by Edinburgh researchers used a state-of-the-art computer model to assess the impacts that different COVID-19 recovery plans could have between 2019 and 2060. The researchers modeled four post-pandemic scenarios and examined how the global food system would be affected by each. of these.

Their findings show that plans that include dietary changes to less meat and more fruits and vegetables could prevent 2,600 premature deaths per million people by 2060. With a projected world population of over 10 billion by 2060, this could potentially prevent 26 million deaths that year. alone, says the team.

Adopting low-meat diets would make food more affordable, especially in low-income countries, where 50% of income needed to have enough food in 2019 would drop to around 10% by 2060.

Reducing meat consumption would also reduce agricultural land use and the need for irrigation and fertilizer, which can affect water quality and harm biodiversity, the teams say.

Economic orientation

In contrast, stimulus packages focused solely on restoring economic activity to pre-pandemic levels could result in up to 780 additional deaths per million in 2060, or nearly eight million deaths this year alone, on the based on population projections.

These strategies would also increase the use of land, irrigation and fertilizers, and have less impact in making food more affordable, the researchers say.

The study is published in the journal The Planetary Health of the Lancet.

Post-Covid African plans must prioritize climate: study

More information:
Juliette Maire et al, How Different COVID-19 Recovery Pathways Affect Human Health, Environmental Sustainability, and Food Accessibility: A Modeling Study, The Planetary Health of the Lancet (2022). DOI: 10.1016/S2542-5196(22)00144-9

Provided by the University of Edinburgh

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