Fall 2015

Food, Health & the Environment: A Global Grand Challenge & Some Solutions

Authors
Jaquelyn L. Jahn, Meir J. Stampfer, and Walter C.Willett
Abstract

The dual burden of obesity and undernutrition is a significant public health challenge worldwide, especially in the context of a changing climate. This essay presents the most recent nutritional evidence for the optimal diet for long-term health, and offers some commentary on how production of these foods affects the environment. Current dietary research supports a diet rich in fruits and vegetables; nuts, legumes, fish, and some poultry as protein sources; unsaturated fats replacing saturated fats; whole grains replacing refined grain products; dairy foods in low to modest amounts; and minimal amounts of red meat and added sugar. This healthy dietary pattern also supports sustainable agriculture and environmental preservation.

JAQUELYN L. JAHN is pursuing her Master's in Public Health at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, with dual focuses on obesity prevention and social epidemiology. Her research has been published in journals such as International Journal of Cancer, Circulation, Cancer Research, and Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

MEIR J. STAMPFER is Professor of Epidemiology and Nutrition at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and Professor of Medicine at the Harvard Medical School. He is also Associate Director of the Channing Division of Network Medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital, and Principal Investigator of the Nurses’ Health Study. He has published over 1,000 scientific papers, and is among the five most highly cited researchers in clinical medicine.

WALTER C. WILLETT is the Fredrick John Stare Professor of Epidemiology and Nutrition and Chair of the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. He is also Professor of Medicine at the Harvard Medical School. He is the author of Nutritional Epidemiology (3rd ed., 2012), Eat, Drink, and be Healthy: The Harvard Medical School Guide to Eating Healthy (with Patrick J. Skerrett, 2005), and The Fertility Diet (with Jorge E. Chavarro and Patrick J. Skerrett, 2008).

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