Position of the Society for Nutrition Education and Behavior: The Importance of Including Environmental Sustainability in Dietary Guidance
It is the position of the Society for Nutrition Education and Behavior that environmental sustainability should be inherent in dietary guidance, whether working with individuals or groups about their dietary choices or in setting national dietary guidance. Improving the nutritional health of a population is a long-term goal that requires ensuring the long-term sustainability of the food system. Current environmental trends, including those related to climate change, biodiversity loss, land degradation, water shortages, and water pollution, threaten long-term food security and are caused in part by current diets and agricultural practices. Addressing these problems while producing more food for a growing population will require changes to current food systems. Dietary choices have a significant role in contributing to environmental impacts, which could be lessened by consuming fewer overconsumed animal products and more plant-based foods while reducing excess energy intake and the amount of food wasted. Discussion of sustainability within governmental dietary guidance is common in many countries, is consistent with previous US guidelines, and is within the scope of authorizing legislation. Dietary choices are a personal matter, but many American consumers are motivated by a concern for the environment and would welcome sound advice from credentialed nutrition professionals. More opportunities are needed for developing such interdisciplinary knowledge among nutritionists.