04 Apr Identifying nutrient gaps in EAT-Lancet planetary health diet
In 2019, the EAT–Lancet Commission on healthy diets from sustainable food systems released their report, outlining a proposed diet for the global population, intended to improve human health while reducing the environmental impact of the food system. It has become a landmark publication, with both applause and criticism from various sectors, and featured in many subsequent publications on food system sustainability. A new report in The Lancet, featuring one of the original report’s authors, has identified where the original diet fell short nutritionally, and how to improve it.
Using broader food composition data, more recent nutrient requirement values, and consideration of bioavailability, the authors identified nutrient gaps in the diet for vitamin A, vitamin B12, calcium, iron (especially for women), and zinc.
To fill these gaps, they prioritised nutrient-dense, minimally processed foods, and produced a new diet that met nutrient requirements. Compared to the original EAT-Lancet diet, their revised diet had less whole grains, pulses, soy, and nuts, largely because of the antinutrients present in these foods that reduce iron and zinc absorption. There were increases for root vegetables, meat, seafood, seeds, and refined grains.
In concluding, the authors note the limitations of prescribing global diets as compared to locally appropriate diets. The second iteration of the EAT-Lancet commission reports is expected in 2024, and it can be hoped that the considerations raised by this paper will be included therein.