Healthy and sustainable diets that meet greenhouse gas emission reduction targets and are affordable for different income groups in the UK

Christian J. Reynolds, Graham W. Horgan, Stephen Whybrow, Jennie I. Macdiarmid* (Corresponding Author)

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

75 Citations (Scopus)
7 Downloads (Pure)


To model dietary changes required to shift the UK population to diets that meet dietary recommendations for health, have lower greenhouse gas emissions (GHGE) and are affordable for different income groups.

Linear programming was used to create diets that meet dietary requirements for health and reduced GHGE (57 and 80 % targets) by income quintile, taking account of food budgets and foods currently purchased, thereby keeping dietary change to a minimum.

Nutrient composition, GHGE and price data were mapped to 101 food groups in household food purchase data (UK Living Cost and Food Survey (2013), 5144 households).

Current diets of all income quintiles had similar total GHGE, but the source of GHGE differed by types of meat and amount of fruit and vegetables. It was possible to create diets with a 57 % reduction in GHGE that met dietary and cost restraints in all income groups. In the optimised diets, the food sources of GHGE differed by income group due to the cost and keeping the level of deviation from current diets to a minimum. Broadly, the changes needed were similar across all groups; reducing animal-based products and increasing plant-based foods but varied by specific foods.

Healthy and lower-GHGE diets could be created in all income quintiles but tailoring changes to income groups to minimise deviation may make dietary changes more achievable. Specific attention must be given to make interventions and policies appropriate for all income groups.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1503-1517
Number of pages15
JournalPublic Health Nutrition
Issue number8
Early online date20 Feb 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2019

Bibliographical note

We thank Amandine Perrin and Hubert Ehlert for their help writing some of the early linear programming code.
Financial Support: This study was funded by the Scottish Government's Rural and Environment Science and Analytical Services Division (RESAS)


  • income
  • greenhouse gas emissions
  • affordable diets
  • linear programming
  • healthy sustainable diets
  • Affordable diets
  • Income
  • Linear programming
  • Greenhouse gas emissions
  • Healthy sustainable diets


Dive into the research topics of 'Healthy and sustainable diets that meet greenhouse gas emission reduction targets and are affordable for different income groups in the UK'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this