Brad Ridoutt, Principal Research Scientist

Agriculture and Food
Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO)

Ensuring nutrient adequacy for a healthy and sustainable diet - the Australian experience

The Australian dietary guidelines recommend enjoying a variety of nutritious foods from the five food groups every day, underscoring the principle that “variety” is fundamental to good nutrition. However, this principle is challenged when recommendations seeking to improve the environmental sustainability of diets call for avoidance of foods considered to have a higher environmental footprint, such as animal-sourced foods. In Australia, detailed investigations have been undertaken on almost 10,000 adult daily diets obtained from the nationally representative Australian Health Survey, using advanced environmental indicators based on life cycle assessment. In particular, a subgroup of 1700 diets have been isolated having both higher diet quality score and lower environmental impact score. These diets were primarily distinguished by their lower content of energy-dense/nutrient-poor discretionary (or non-core) foods. Among these diets, we have sought to understand the characteristics of those diets having higher vegetable intake, since vegetables are the most under-consumed food group across the Australian adult population. Also, we have investigated the implications for nutritional adequacy of protein choice since common suggestions about sustainable diets typically target this food category. This presentation will summarise findings such as the importance of considering the total diet in developing strategies to promote healthy and sustainable food consumption, that greater variety of protein-rich food intake is beneficial to meeting EARs, and lower environmental impact diets can include three or more selections including foods of animal origin.

Speaker/Chair Bio:

Dr Ridoutt is a Principal Research Scientist with Australia’s national science agency – The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO). His expertise is in life cycle sustainability assessment in the agriculture and food sectors which is used to address strategic challenges in relation to climate change, water scarcity, sustainable food systems, and sustainable diets. Dr Ridoutt is engaged in a range of international processes relating to the standardization of sustainability assessment and environmental labelling. His research is creating the main evidence base concerning the environmental impacts of dietary habits in Australia.