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A Rapid Review of the Environmental Impacts Associated with Food Consumption in Australia and New Zealand


Purpose of Review

The 2013 Australian Dietary Guidelines (ADG) have been criticised for making only brief reference to sustainability considerations. With the ADG currently under review, the purpose of this rapid review was to determine the environmental impacts associated with food consumption in Australia and New Zealand.

Recent Findings

Of the 20 articles included, greenhouse gas emissions (GHGe) were the most common environmental indicator (n = 12), followed by water use and water footprint (n = 7), and carbon footprint (n = 3). Whilst there are commonalities between different environmental indicators such as the large impact of discretionary food consumption on GHGe, cropland scarcity footprint, and water scarcity footprint, there is wide variation in these indicators for other food groups. Furthermore, modelling of current food consumption data to the recommended diet does not necessarily result in improvement of all indicators.


The next iteration of the ADG should promote consumption of foods and dietary patterns that are associated with positive health and environmental outcomes.

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Fig. 1


Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance

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The authors would like to acknowledge the contributions made by members of the Dietitians Australia Food and Environment Interest Group throughout the review process and Lorien Delany for assistance with the literature search.

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Correspondence to Sara Forbes.

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Conflict of Interest

Sara Forbes contributed to this article as part of the leadership team of the Food and Environment Interest Group of Dietitians Australia, and is also Co-convenor of the Food Service Interest Group of Dietitians Australia. Both roles are unpaid. Ellyn Bicknell is a current member of Dietitians Australia Food and Environment Interest Group and is a previous board member/volunteer of the Southern Harvest Association. Ligia Guilovica declares that she has no conflict of interest. Kate Wingrove was partially supported by an Australian Government Research Training Program Scholarship, administered by Deakin University, and was employed by Deakin University as a Casual Research Fellow. Payments were unrelated to this article. She also contributed to this article as part of the leadership team of the Food and Environment Interest Group of Dietitians Australia and is a member of the Dietitians Australia Australian Dietary Guidelines Review Working Group. Both roles are unpaid. Karen Charlton is a member of the leadership team of the Food and Environment Interest Group of Dietitians Australia. She also receives research grants from the National Health and Medical Research Council Dementia Collaborative Research Centre, the Australian Research Centre, and Resolve to Save Lives. These grants did not support this work.

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Forbes, S., Bicknell, E., Guilovica, L. et al. A Rapid Review of the Environmental Impacts Associated with Food Consumption in Australia and New Zealand. Curr Nutr Rep (2021).

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  • Food consumption
  • Dietary patterns
  • Environmental impacts
  • Sustainability
  • Australia
  • New Zealand