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The inconvenient truths behind the 'Planetary Health' diet


Can we eat our way not only to better health, but also to a better planet? That is the question addressed by the EAT-Lancet Commission on Healthy Diets from Sustainable Food Systems, which launched its global Planetary Health dietary recommendations at the United Nations. The goal of the 19 commissioners, drawn from a range of environmental, agricultural and public health disciplines, was to establish a scientific consensus on how to provide a healthy diet to a growing global population, while safeguarding the environment. 

In public health, there is a term for "bias leading to the distortion of information in the service of what may be perceived to be righteous ends."It is called white hat bias. This is the trap the EAT-Lancet report falls into. Nutrition is an arena where such bias could have profound consequences. It would not be the first time. Similar good intentions nearly a half century ago inadvertently made diet the leading cause of our global health and healthcare crises. None of this diminishes the urgent need for aggressive action to curb climate change, especially through policies such as a carbon tax and indeed, many recommendations on food production and waste in the EAT-Lancet report. But the attempt to produce a scientifically credible dietary plan aligning nutrition science with environmental goals was doomed to fail from the start. The science on climate change is essentially settled. The science on nutrition is in flux. Prematurely forcing them together will, in the end, serve neither.