On a global scale, one-third of the food produced for human consumption is wasted. In addition, climate change caused by food waste and reduced efficiency of land, fertilizer and freshwater consumption have further damaged the Earth’s resources.
On the other hand, it is estimated that if no further measures are taken to slow the increase in obesity rates, the global cost of treatment for obesity-related diseases will increase significantly in the next decade. It is well known that preventable chronic diseases are the main cause of ill health, such as coronary heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, certain forms of cancer and type 2 diabetes, which are associated with obesity and unhealthy diets.
However, we can work together to solve the two main problems of obesity and food waste.
Excessive consumption, also known as “metabolic food waste,” refers to the intake of foods that exceed nutritional needs, which can lead to overweight and obesity.
A representative dietary guide is: “To achieve and maintain a healthy weight, keep your body active and choose the right amount of nutritious foods and beverages to meet your energy needs.”
In 2013, researchers identified three principles for healthy and sustainable diets. the first is:
Any food intake that exceeds personal energy consumption can lead to environmental burdens that would otherwise be avoided, such as greenhouse gas emissions, over-utilization of natural resources, and biodiversity pressures.
Reduce processing, consumption of packaged food
Excessively processed foods not only promote obesity but also pose a huge threat to our environment. This is not only reflected in the process of making and distributing food, but also in how they are disposed of. According to statistics, food packaging (bottles, containers, wrapping paper) accounts for nearly two-thirds of the total packaging waste.
Ultra-processed foods contain high calories, refined sugars, saturated fats and salt. These products are formulated and marketed to promote over-consumption, which leads to obesity.
Writer Michael Poland speaks best. He said, “Don’t eat anything that your great-grandmother thought was not food.”
So what do we need to do?
In response to the economic and environmental burden of junk food intake, the Australian Federal Government hopes to halve the level of food waste in Australia by 2030. In response, the government plans to allocate $133 million over the next decade 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 recommendations must take into account the impact of production materials and distribution on social justice and the environment. The Qatar National Dietary Guidelines clearly state “reducing leftovers and waste”.
Given the economic impact of food waste and obesity, and the impact on our people and the health of the planet, reducing food waste can solve two major problems facing humanity today.