What’s good for the planet is good for us….

burger.jpgA low carbon lifestyle means better health for all of us. Eating less meat could save 45,000 lives in the UK each year.

Experts have banded together to point out the connection between climate change and our bad health.  They believe our meat-heavy diets and obsession with cars is leading us to a sticky end.

An article published simultaneously in the BMJ, the Lancet and the Finnish Medical Journal today, warns that the links between climate policy and health policy must not be overlooked.

The environmental organisation, Friends of the Earth, agree; they told us that 45,000 UK deaths could be prevented each year with lower meat diets, saving the NHS £1.2 billion. Celebrities such as Paul McCartney and Helen Baxendale have also given their support to campaigns aiming to reduce meat consumption. For more meat facts see the end of this article.

Written by Robin Stott and Ian Roberts on behalf of the Climate and Health Council, it is a call to action for health professionals across the world to help tackle the health effects of climate change.

Failure to agree radical reductions in emissions spells a global health catastrophe, they say.

Later this month, representatives from countries around the world will meet at the 2010 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Mexico.

Stott and Roberts stated that “The planet is getting hotter, its people are getting fatter, and the use of fossil fuel energy is the cause of both.”

They argue that moving to a low carbon economy “could be the next great public health advance.” For example, a low carbon economy will mean less pollution and a need for more physical activity. A low carbon diet (especially eating less meat) and taking more exercise will mean less cancer, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and even depression.

A reduction in car use and meat consumption would also cut world food prices, they add.

They believe that health professionals everywhere have a responsibility to put health at the heart of climate change negotiations. “Responding to climate change could be the most important challenge that health professionals face,” they say.

Meat facts from Friends of the Earth

18 per cent of climate changing emissions occur as a result of the meat and dairy industry[i]

An area twice the size of Greater London deforested in Brazil to grow meat and animal feed for export to the UK in 2009[ii]

45,000 UK deaths could be prevented each year with lower meat diets, saving the NHS £1.2 billion[iii]

80 kg of meat eaten each year by the average Brit – equivalent to 4 sausages each day[iv]

2.7 times as much fat in the average supermarket chicken as 40 years ago – and 30 per cent less protein[v]

4 times as much meat produced around the world now as 50 years ago[vi]
It takes around 3.5 x times more land to produce a low-meat diet than a high-meat diet [vii]

Meat and dairy production uses 70 per cent of the world’s available agricultural land.[viii]

£700 million public money spent on factory farming in the UK each year[ix]

3 – optimum number of times to eat meat each week, according to Friends of the Earth’s ‘Healthy planet eating’ report.[x]

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[i] UN’s Livestock’s Long Shadow 2006 http://www.fao.org/docrep/010/a0701e/a0701e00.HTM
[ii] Friends of the Earth’s Forest to Fork research, October 2010
[iii] Friends of the Earth’s Healthy Planet Eating research October 2010
[iv] Friends of the Earth’s Healthy Planet Eating research October 2010
[v] Simopoulos AP, Omega-6/omega-3 essential fatty acid ratio and chronic diseases, Food Rev Intl, 2004; 20(1): 77-90.
[vi] Friends of the Earth’s Healthy Planet Eating research October 2010
[vii] Cornell University, October 2007
http://www.news.cornell.edu/stories/oct07/diets.ag.footprint.sl.html
[viii] UN’s Livestock’s Long Shadow 2006
http://www.fao.org/docrep/010/a0701e/a0701e00.HTM
[ix] Friends of the Earth’s Feeding the Beast research, April 2009
[x] Friends of the Earth’s Healthy Planet Eating research October 2010

 

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