Evidence from the scientific literature shows a significant variation in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the diet, according to the type of food consumed. We aim to analyze the relationship between the daily dietary GHG emissions according to red meat, fruit and vegetables consumption and their relationship with risk of total mortality, and incident risk of chronic diseases.
We examined data on the EPIC-Spain prospective study, with a sample of 40 621 participants. Dietary GHG emission values were calculated for 57 food items of the EPIC study using mean emission data from a systematic review of 369 published studies.
Dietary GHG emissions (kgCO2eq/day), per 2000 kcal, were 4.7 times higher in those with high red-meat consumption (>140 g/day) than those with low consumption (<70 g/day). The average dietary GHG emissions were similar in males and females, but it was significantly higher in youngest people and in those individuals with lower educational level, as well as for northern EPIC centers of Spain. We found a significant association with the risk of mortality comparing the third vs. the first tertile of dietary GHG emissions [hazard ratio (HR) 1.095; 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.007–1.19; trend test 0.037]. Risk of coronary heart disease (HR 1.26; 95% CI 1.08–1.48; trend test 0.003) and risk of type 2 diabetes (HR 1.24; 95% CI 1.11–1.38; trend test 0.002) showed significant association as well.
Decreasing red-meat consumption would lead to reduce GHG emissions from diet and would reduce risk of mortality, coronary heart disease and type 2 diabetes.