Food in the Anthropocene: the EAT–Lancet Commission on healthy diets from sustainable food systems

Food in the Anthropocene: the EAT–Lancet Commission on healthy diets from sustainable food systems


Transformation of the global food system is urgently needed say today’s findings from the EAT-Lancet Commissionwhich draws on the expertise of LEAPs Tara Garnett, Marco Springmann and Micheal Clark, as well as research from other leading experts in nutrition, agriculture, food policy and climate science

More than three billion people are classed as malnourished, which includes both people who are undernourished and overnourished - leading to obesity. At the same time, food production is driving climate change, biodiversity loss, pollution due to over-application of nitrogen and phosphorus fertilizers, and unsustainable water and land use.

The EAT-Lancet Commission has launched the first scientific targets for a healthy diet from a sustainable food production system that operates within planetary boundaries  - thresholds beyond which Earth’s vital systems could become unstable. The report promotes a ‘flexitarian’ diet, which is largely plant-based with unsaturated rather than saturated fats but can optionally include modest amounts of fish, meat, dairy and added sugars. The authors estimate that widespread adoption of such a diet would improve intakes of most nutrients and deliver major health benefits whilst also combatting climate change and biodiversity loss if suggestions for the sustainable intensification of nutrient-rich crops and improvement of global food systems are acted upon.


Dr Marco Springmann of LEAP and the Oxford Martin Programme on the Future of Food, who co-authored the report said, “Without concerted action, we found that the environmental impacts of the food system could increase by 50-90% by 2050 as a result of population growth and the rise of diets high in fats, sugars and meat. In that case, all planetary boundaries related to food production would be surpassed, some of them by more than twofold. Many of the solutions we analysed are being implemented in some parts of the world, but it will need strong global coordination and rapid upscale to make their effects felt.”

The report emphasises that key to enabling this shift is ensuring that healthy diets are accessible and affordable to all, with social protections to ensure low-income groups are not adversely affected by any rises in food prices.

The EAT-Lancet Commission is a three-year project that brings together 37 experts from 16 countries with expertise in health, nutrition, environmental sustainability, food systems, economics and political governance. Research findings from Professor Sir Charles Godfray, Director of the Oxford Martin School, and Dr Tara Garnett, of the Oxford Martin Programme on the Future of Food and the LEAP project, also contributed to the science evidence base of the report.


Download the report here