Netherlands Nutrition Center Voedingscentrum

The Hague, Netherlands

Netherlands Nutrition Center Voedingscentrum

The Hague, Netherlands
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van Dooren C.,Netherlands Nutrition Center Voedingscentrum | Douma A.,Netherlands Nutrition Center Voedingscentrum | Aiking H.,VU University Amsterdam | Vellinga P.,VU University Amsterdam
Ecological Economics | Year: 2017

The aim of this study is to explore the relations between the climate impact of food products and their nutritional characteristics, in order to propose a nutrient density index that quantifies these relations. Our study is based on the nutritional characteristics of the 403 most consumed food products in the Netherlands. Metabolic energy density,1 Definitions: Energy density is the total metabolic energy per weight unit of a food product (total kcal/100 g product). This value is determined by the proportion of the different macronutrients (proteins, fats, carbohydrates) and the water content. Nutrient Density: Dietary Guidelines for Americans (USDA, 2005, 2010) define nutrient-dense foods as those ‘that provide substantial amounts of vitamins and minerals (micronutrients) and relatively few calories.’ Examples are whole grains, lean meats, low-fat dairy products, and all legumes, vegetables, and fruits (WHO, 2003). NRFx.y: Nutrient Rich Foods index, including x nutrients which should be encouraged and y nutrients which should be limited (Drewnowski, 2009). Essential fatty acids (EFA) are polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) and consist of two groups: n − 3 and n − 6 fatty acids. Linoleic acid (LA) is an n − 6. Alpha linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are n − 3. EPA and DHA together are known as fish fatty acids. ‘Nutritional characteristics’ are the nutritional values of food products that are associated with increased or reduced health risks of the diet. These can be specific nutrients, energy density, nutrient density, and even category of a specific food group (e.g., fish). Fruiting vegetables: A vegetable with a pulpy, seed-rich body which grows on a vine. nutrient density (Nutrient Rich Foods index: NRF) and Greenhouse Gas Emissions (GHGEs) of the products were calculated. Low GHGE intensity per 100 g correlated with positive nutritional characteristics of food products. This is true for low energy density, and high nutrient density, expressed as the well-established NRF9.3 index. This index was improved to include the contribution of food products to GHGEs. GHGEs of product groups correlate more strongly with the proposed Sustainable Nutrient Rich Foods index (SNRF). This SNRF summarizes six distinctive nutrients (three which should be encouraged and three limited), as well as (metabolic) energy density. Including such an index on food product labels could assist consumers in making better informed food choices. © 2016 Elsevier B.V.


van de Kamp M.E.,National Institute for Public Health and the Environment RIVM | van Dooren C.,Netherlands Nutrition Center Voedingscentrum | Hollander A.,National Institute for Public Health and the Environment RIVM | Geurts M.,National Institute for Public Health and the Environment RIVM | And 6 more authors.
Food Research International | Year: 2017

Objective: To determine the differences in environmental impact and nutrient content of the current Dutch diet and four healthy diets aimed at lowering greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Methods: GHG emissions (as proxy for environmental impact) and nutrient content of the current Dutch diet and four diets adhering to the Dutch food based dietary guidelines (Wheel of Five), were compared in a scenario study. Scenarios included a healthy diet with or without meat, and the same diets in which only foods with relatively low GHG emissions are chosen. For the current diet, data from the Dutch National Food Consumption Survey 2007-2010 were used. GHG emissions (in kg CO2-equivalents) were based on life cycle assessments. Results are reported for men and women aged 19-30years and 31-50years. Results: The effect on GHG emissions of changing the current Dutch diet to a diet according to the Wheel of Five (corresponding with the current diet as close as possible), ranged from -13% for men aged 31-50. years to +. 5% for women aged 19-30. years. Replacing meat in this diet and/or consuming only foods with relatively low GHG emissions resulted in average GHG emission reductions varying from 28-46%. In the scenarios in which only foods with relatively low GHG emissions are consumed, fewer dietary reference intakes (DRIs) were met than in the other healthy diet scenarios. However, in all healthy diet scenarios the number of DRIs being met was equal to or higher than that in the current diet. Conclusions: Diets adhering to food based dietary guidelines did not substantially reduce GHG emissions compared to the current Dutch diet, when these diets stayed as close to the current diet as possible. Omitting meat from these healthy diets or consuming only foods with relatively low associated GHG emissions both resulted in GHG emission reductions of around a third. These findings may be used to expand food based dietary guidelines with information on how to reduce the environmental impact of healthy diets. © 2017 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.

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