China’s Changing Diet: Environment and Health Impacts

In Part 1 of the China’s Changing Diet blog series, we provided an overview of the recent shifts in how Chinese citizens eat and live as a result of economic growth, urbanization and food availability. In the following section, we will discuss the local and global impacts of these shifts and how Chinese health experts have addressed these through the newly-revised Chinese Dietary Guidelines.

Diet changes have lasting impacts on health and the environment locally and globally

In China, the incidence of obesity and its related complications have increased rapidly alongside dietary changes. The overall prevalence of overweight and obesity among Chinese people was increased by 38.6% and 80.6% respectively during the period of 1992-2002.[i] In 2012, 30.1% of adults were overweight and 11.9% were obese. 9.6% of youth were overweight and 6.4% were obese.[ii] Taking into account the sheer size of China’s population, over one fifth of all one billion obese people in the world now come from China.[iii]

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Dietary Guidelines Confusing on Red Meat

USDA MyPlate, 2010

USDA MyPlate, 2010

Last week the USDA and HHS released the new 2015 Dietary Guidelines. And while there are some evidence-based recommendations that make a lot of sense, there are some recommendations that leave us scratching our heads. There is also a disturbing omission of environmental concerns.

Perhaps the biggest piece of good news is that the Guidelines clearly call for a reduction in the consumption of “added sugars”—the new recommendation calls for a maximum 10 percent of daily calories. Could the agencies have gone a step further and specified that sodas and sugary drinks make up a big part of “added sugars?” Why, yes, they could have done that. Marion Nestle writes that “added sugars is a euphemism” Read More >

New Dietary Guidelines Should Keep Sustainability on the Menu

Jillian Fry testifying about the Dietary Guidelines, March 24, 2015.

Jillian Fry testifying about the Dietary Guidelines, Bethesda, Md., March 24, 2015.

MARCH 24, 2015, Bethesda, Md.—This morning Jillian Fry, a project director at the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future (CLF), gave public testimony about the Scientific Report of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC). This is the first time in history that the DGAC has included sustainability considerations in its recommendations. The testimony is being heard today by U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which oversee the U.S. Dietary Guidelines, known recently as MyPlate and updated every five years. Read More >