Globally, one third of the food produced for human consumption is wasted. In addition, climate change caused by food waste and reduced land, fertilizer and freshwater consumption efficiency have further damaged the planet’s resources.
On the other hand, it is estimated that if no further measures are taken to slow the rise in obesity rates, the global cost of treating obesity-related diseases will increase significantly in the next decade. It is well known that preventable chronic diseases are the main cause of poor health, such as coronary heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, certain forms of cancer and type 2 diabetes and other diseases related to obesity and unhealthy diets.
Alas, but we can solve the two main problems of obesity and food waste together.
Avoid excessive consumption
Excessive consumption is also known as “metabolic food waste”, which refers to ingesting foods that exceed nutritional requirements. This diet can lead to overweight and obesity.
One of the representative dietary guidelines is: “To reach and maintain a healthy weight, stay physically active and choose the right amount of nutritious foods and drinks to meet your energy needs.”
In 2013, researchers identified three principles for a healthy and sustainable diet. the first is:
Any food intake that exceeds personal energy consumption will lead to environmental burdens that could otherwise be avoided, such as greenhouse gas emissions, overuse of natural resources and pressure on biodiversity.
Reduce consumption of processed and packaged foods
Excessively processed foods not only promote obesity, but also pose a huge threat to our environment. This is not only reflected in the manufacturing and distribution of food, but also in the way they are handled. According to statistics, food packaging (bottles, containers, packaging paper) accounts for nearly two-thirds of total packaging waste.
Ultra-processed foods contain high calories, refined sugars, saturated fats, and salt. These products are formulated and marketed to promote excessive consumption, which can lead to obesity.
Puppet writer Michael Poland puts it best, saying, “Don’t eat anything your great-grandmother thinks is not food.”
So what do we need to do?
For the economic and environmental burden of junk food intake, the Australian Federal Government hopes to halve Australian food waste by 2030. In response, the government plans to allocate US $ 133 million over the next ten years for research on related issues, and the health and economic sectors work together to address food waste and obesity. Other countries, including Brazil and the United Kingdom, have highlighted the link between health and environmental sustainability in their dietary guidelines.
One of Brazil’s five guiding principles states that dietary advice must take into account the impact of means of production and distribution on social justice and the environment. Qatar’s national dietary guidelines clearly state “reduce leftovers and waste.”
Given the impact of food waste and obesity on the economy and the health of our people and the planet, reducing food waste can solve two major problems facing humanity today.