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The system-wide impact of healthy eating: Assessing emissions and economic impacts at the regional level

Allan, Grant, Comerford, David, McGregor, Peter
Food policy 2019 v.86 pp. 101725
diet, economic impact, emissions, food production, guidelines, health policy, healthy eating habits, households, income, meat, Scotland
Encouraging consumers to shift their diets towards a lower meat/lower calorie alternative has been the focus of food and health policies across the world. The economic impacts of such changes on regions have been less widely examined, but are likely to be significant, especially where agricultural and food production activities are important for the region. In this study we use a multi-sectoral modelling framework to examine the environmental and economic impacts of such a dietary change, and illustrate this using a detailed model for Scotland. We find that if household food and drink consumption follows healthy eating guidelines, it would reduce both Scotland’s “footprint” and “territorial” emissions, and yet may be associated with positive economic impacts, generating a “double dividend” for both the environment and the economy. The economic impact however depends critically upon how households use the income previously spent on higher meat/higher calorie diets. Furthermore, the likely (but not modelled) benefits to health suggest the potential for a “triple dividend”.