Blonk Consultants

Gouda, Netherlands

Blonk Consultants

Gouda, Netherlands
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Kramer G.F.,Blonk Consultants | Tyszler M.,Royal Tropical Institute KIT | Veer P.V.,Wageningen University | Blonk H.,Blonk Consultants
Public Health Nutrition | Year: 2017

Objective: To find diets optimised on nutrition and environmental impact close to the current Dutch diet and to identify the most effective and acceptable options for mitigating environmental impact. Design: Linear programming was used to optimise diets of Dutch men and women aged 9–69 years, divided into ten age–gender groups. The analysis included nutrient composition, a metric for popularity and life cycle assessments of 207 food products. Greenhouse gas emissions, fossil energy use and land occupation were used to calculate a weighted score for the overall environmental impact. Optimised diets were solutions that minimised changes to the current diet while satisfying all nutritional constraints, with stepwise reductions in environmental impact. Setting: The Netherlands. Subjects: Dutch children and adults aged 9–69 years. Results: Meat was always reduced. Vegetable, fruit and dairy contents remained similar, while bread, fatty fish and legumes increased. The extent of changes depended on age and gender. Beverages were not heavily reduced. Nutrients critical for the outcome were α-linoleic acid, retinol, Ca, Na, Se, dietary fibre, SFA, thiamin and Fe (women of childbearing age). Total protein, essential amino acids and carbohydrates were not critical. Conclusions: Reducing meat is the most effective option for lowering the environmental impact of diets in all age–gender groups. Reducing alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages is another option. Leaving out fish and dairy products are not. The differences in nutritional requirements related to age and gender have a significant effect on the composition of the optimised diets. Copyright © The Authors 2017

Temme E.H.M.,National Institute for Public Health and the Environment RIVM | Toxopeus I.B.,National Institute for Public Health and the Environment RIVM | Kramer G.F.H.,Blonk Consultants | Brosens M.C.C.,National Institute for Public Health and the Environment RIVM | And 3 more authors.
Public Health Nutrition | Year: 2014

Objective To evaluate the greenhouse gas emission (GHGE) of diets in Dutch girls, boys, women and men and to explore associations with diet composition. Design Descriptive analyses for the total population as well as stratified for gender, age and dietary environmental load. Setting The Netherlands. Subjects Dutch children and adults aged 7-69 years (n 3818). Results The GHGE of daily diets was on average 3·2 kg CO2-equivalents (CO2e) for girls, 3·6 kg CO2e for boys, 3·7 kg CO2e for women and 4·8 kg CO2e for men. Meat and cheese contributed about 40 % and drinks (including milk and alcoholic drinks) 20 % to daily GHGE. Considerable differences in environmental loads of diets existed within age and gender groups. Persons with higher-GHGE diets consumed more (in quantity of foods and especially drinks) than their counterparts of a similar sex and age with low-GHGE diets. Major differences between high-and low-GHGE diets were in meat, cheese and dairy consumption as well as in soft drinks (girls, boys and women) and alcoholic drinks (men). Of those, differences in meat consumption determined the differences in GHGE most. Diets with higher GHGE were associated with higher saturated fat intake and lower fibre intake Conclusions GHGE of daily diets in the Netherlands is between 3 and 5 kg CO2e, with considerable differences between individuals. Meat, dairy and drinks contribute most to GHGE. The insights of the study may be used in developing (age-and gender-specific) food-based dietary guidelines that take into account both health and sustainability aspects. © 2015 The Authors.

Biesbroek S.,National Institute for Public Health and the Environment RIVM | Bas Bueno-De-Mesquita H.,National Institute for Public Health and the Environment RIVM | Bas Bueno-De-Mesquita H.,University Utrecht | Bas Bueno-De-Mesquita H.,Imperial College London | And 7 more authors.
Environmental Health: A Global Access Science Source | Year: 2014

Background: Food choices influence health status, but also have a great impact on the environment. The production of animal-derived foods has a high environmental burden, whereas the burden of refined carbohydrates, vegetables and fruit is low. The aim of this study was to investigate the associations of greenhouse gas emission (GHGE) and land use of usual diet with mortality risk, and to estimate the effect of a modelled meat substitution scenario on health and the environment. Methods: The usual diet of 40011 subjects in the EPIC-NL cohort was assessed using a food frequency questionnaire. GHGE and land use of food products were based on life cycle analysis. Cox proportional hazard ratios (HR) were calculated to determine relative mortality risk. In the modelled meat-substitution scenario, one-Third (35 gram) of the usual daily meat intake (105 gram) was substituted by other foods. Results: During a follow-up of 15.9 years, 2563 deaths were registered. GHGE and land use of the usual diet were not associated with all-cause or with cause-specific mortality. Highest vs. lowest quartile of GHGE and land use adjusted hazard ratios for all-cause mortality were respectively 1.00 (95% CI: 0.86-1.17) and 1.05 (95% CI: 0.89-1.23). Modelled substitution of 35 g/d of meat with vegetables, fruit-nuts-seeds, pasta-rice-couscous, or fish significantly increased survival rates (6-19%), reduced GHGE (4-11%), and land use (10-12%). Conclusions: There were no significant associations observed between dietary-derived GHGE and land use and mortality in this Dutch cohort. However, the scenario-study showed that substitution of meat with other major food groups was associated with a lower mortality risk and a reduced environmental burden. Especially when vegetables, fruit-nuts-seeds, fish, or pasta-rice-couscous replaced meat. © 2014 Biesbroek et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

De Schepper E.,Hasselt University | Lizin S.,Hasselt University | Durlinger B.,Blonk Consultants | Azadi H.,Hasselt University | And 3 more authors.
Energies | Year: 2015

The two core objectives of the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) are cost-effective emission reduction and sustainable development. Despite the potential to contribute to both objectives, solar projects play a negligible role under the CDM. In this research, the greenhouse gas mitigation cost is used to evaluate the economic and environmental performances of small-scale rural photovoltaic solar projects. In particular, we compare the use of absolute and relative mitigation costs to evaluate the attractiveness of these projects under the CDM. We encourage the use of relative mitigation costs, implying consideration of baseline costs that render the projects profitable. Results of the mitigation cost analysis are dependent on the baseline chosen. To overcome this drawback, we complement the analysis with a multi-objective optimization approach, which allows quantifying the trade-off between economic and environmental performances of the optimal technologies without requiring a baseline. © 2015 by the authors.

van Dooren C.,Netherlands Nutrition Center Voedingscentrum | van Dooren C.,VU University Amsterdam | Tyszler M.,Blonk Consultants | Kramer G.F.H.,Blonk Consultants | Aiking H.,VU University Amsterdam
Sustainability (Switzerland) | Year: 2015

Background: This study aims to find diets with low price and low climate impact, yet fulfilling all nutritional requirements. Methods: Optimization by linear programming. The program constrains 33 nutrients to fulfill Dutch dietary requirements. In a second cycle, the upper boundary for climate impact through greenhouse gas emissions (GHGE) is set to 1.6 kg carbon dioxide equivalents/day (CO2eq). In a third cycle, the costs are set on €2.50 as a constraint. The objective function of the optimization maximized the most consumed food products (n = 206) for male and female adults separately (age 31-50). Results: A diet of 63 popular and low priced basic products was found to deliver all required nutrients at an adequate level for both male and female adults. This plant-based, carbohydrate and fiber-rich diet consists mainly of wholegrain bread, potatoes, muesli, open-field vegetables and fruits. The climate impact of this diet is very low (1.59 kg CO2eq/day) compared to the average Dutch diet. By constraining costs, a low carbon diet of €2.59/day is possible. Conclusions: A two-person diet consisting of 63 products and costing €37 per week can simultaneously be healthy and yet have half the average climate impact. Linear programming is a promising tool to combine health and sustainability on both societal and individual levels. © 2015 by the authors.

Van Dooren C.,Netherlands Nutrition Center Voedingscentrum | Marinussen M.,Blonk Consultants | Blonk H.,Blonk Consultants | Aiking H.,VU University Amsterdam | Vellinga P.,VU University Amsterdam
Food Policy | Year: 2014

The objective of this study was to explore the synergies between nutritionally healthy and ecologically sustainable diets. The aim was to explore the possibilities for future integrated dietary guidelines that support consumers to make informed dietary choices based on both ecological and nutritional values. We developed a score system for health and sustainability. Subsequently, we tested six different diets: current average Dutch, official 'recommended' Dutch, semi-vegetarian, vegetarian, vegan and Mediterranean. For the sustainability rating, we used the Life Cycle Assessment, measuring the impacts on greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) and land use (LU). For the health rating, we used ten nutritional indicators. By comparing the overall scores we found that the consumption of meat, dairy products, extras, such as snacks, sweets, pastries, and beverages, in that order, are largely responsible for low sustainability scores. Simultaneously, these food groups contribute to low health scores. We developed a matrix that illustrates that the health and sustainability scores of all six diets go largely hand in hand. Fig. 1 provides a visualisation of the position of the six diets in the full health and sustainability spectrum. This matrix with scores can be considered a first step in the development of a tool to measure both sustainability and health issues of specific food patterns. In selecting the diets, we examined two directions: health focus diets and the animal protein reduction diets. The Mediterranean diet is generally the health focus option with a high sustainability score. We conclude that guidelines oriented in between the two directions (i.e., semi- and pesco-vegetarian) are the option with the optimal synergy between health and sustainability. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.

Tyszler M.,Blonk Consultants | Kramer G.,Blonk Consultants | Blonk H.,Blonk Consultants
International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment | Year: 2014

Purpose: In this article, we present an innovative way of deriving comparable functional systems for comparative life cycle assessments (LCAs) of food products. We define the functional unit as the contribution of one or more foods to the nutrient composition of a weekly diet and, after a product substitution, employ a product system expansion approach to search for an alternative set of products which provides an equivalent nutritional composition. Methods: Replacement is regarded within the context of a weekly diet. The comparable diet is a solution to a linear problem which finds the diet that is most similar to the starting one, subject to nutritional and/or other constraints that guarantee a minimum dietary quality. The formulation gives priority to selecting food products according to popularity. Results: We illustrate our method with two examples. We show that a baseline diet containing 3.6 servings of apples a week is equivalent to a similar diet in which the apples are replaced with 3.6 servings of oranges and servings of strawberry and kiwi are removed. These changes are necessary mainly because of differences in the vitamin C content between apples and oranges. The second example is a replacement of all meat in a weekly diet by a soy-based meat substitute. In this case, additional fish products need to be consumed to make up for a lack of selenium and essential amino acids. Conclusions: We present an innovative and objective way to overcome the challenge of comparing two or more food products in a comparative LCA. Our approach is systematic and finds the alternative diet that best meets the nutritional criteria as well as reflecting the food preferences of the population. The method selects products according to the role they play in the dietary pattern. Moreover, the method is flexible enough to allow for different selection criteria and other nutritional and non-nutritional constraints. © 2014 Springer-Verlag.

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