Health professionals call for a climate friendly food system in new paper

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The UK Health Alliance on Climate Change (UKHACC) calls for healthier food system from personal, policy and public procurement sides in a new climate and health paper.

The Alliance’s new report, ‘All-consuming: building a healthier food system for people and planet’, makes a suite of recommendations designed to reduce the UK’s food-related greenhouse gas emissions and the impact of climate change on the health of the British public. 

Professor Dame Parveen Kumar, Ambassador of the Alliance, commented on the report: “Most activity to limit climate change has focused on decarbonising energy and transportation.

“This is very important, but we mustn’t overlook the potential to mitigate the dangerous health effects of climate change by rethinking our approach to food.

“To achieve this, as the UK Health Alliance on Climate Change recommends, health professionals must be supported to share, and direct their patients to, clear and accessible advice on transitioning to a more climate-friendly diet.”

The Alliance’s recommendations include:

  • Advice & Information – Existing public information campaigns on diet should include climate messages, and health professionals & patients should be supported with clear, accessible information on transitioning to a climate-friendly diet.
  • Food Labelling – Commission independent research into the most effective form of environmental labelling to implement to support consumers to make sustainable choices.
  • Public Procurement – Amend public procurement rules to require all procured food to meet minimum environmental standards. All catering within the NHS should be procured in accordance with common sustainability guidelines.
  • Food Policy After Brexit – New trade agreements must include a clause requiring imports to meet UK environmental standards.

A YouGov survey commissioned by the Alliance shows high levels of concern amongst UK health professionals about the impact of food on the climate, and support for the health benefits of more environmentally friendly diets.

Of those surveyed:

  • Two-thirds (68%) are concerned about the impacts of society’s approach to food production and consumption on the environment/climate.
  • Two-thirds (67%) agree that changing your diet in a way that reduces its environmental impact (e.g. by eating less meat) can also improve your health.
  • 40% have already changed their diet/eating habits due to environmental concerns.