Meat, Climate Change and Global Child Health (pp. 553-559)
Authors: John Powles and James Smith
Abstract: Animal production is a leading contributor to global greenhouse gas emissions. Different animal products have different associations with disease risks in low and high income countries. Global meat consumption in 2050 should: Optimise direct effects on health in low and high income countries and reduce indirect threats to health from climate change. Target intake patterns need to be behaviourally realistic. Existing patterns of meat intake in United Kingdom (UK) adults were assessed using the National Diet and Nutrition Survey of 2000/1. A meat intake pattern similar to that of the fifth of the UK adult population with the lowest current intakes of red and processed meat is a plausible candidate target for the whole population in 2050: unprocessed red meat 15 g/d, processed meat 5 g/d and white meat 50 g/d. To come within the preferred pattern the other four fifths of the population would need, on average, to make large reductions in their intakes of unprocessed red meat and processed meat. No changes in white meat intakes would be needed. These changes could be expected to substantially reduce risks of colorectal cancer, coronary heart disease and diabetes in the UK. If the whole UK population were to shift to a pattern of meat intake currently practiced by around one fifth of the population, substantial gains in health and in climate change mitigation could be achieved. More of the sustainable global livestock carrying capacity could then be used to improve child nutrition in low and middle income countries.