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EAT-Lancet diet too costly for nearly 40% Bangladeshis

  • Published at 10:24 pm November 12th, 2019
IFRI
Logo of International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)

The diet recommended people double their intake of nuts, fruit, vegetables and legumes, and eat half as much meat and sugar to prevent millions of early deaths, cut greenhouse gas emissions and preserve land, water and biodiversity, a press release from International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) said on Saturday

In Bangladesh, the daily cost of a prescribed diet titled "EAT-Lancet" designed to feed 10 billion people without hurting the planet, was estimated at Tk209.16, ($2.47) in 2011 US dollars, which a study found nearly 40% of Bangladeshis could not afford.

The diet recommended people double their intake of nuts, fruit, vegetables and legumes, and eat half as much meat and sugar to prevent millions of early deaths, cut greenhouse gas emissions and preserve land, water and biodiversity, a press release from International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) said on Saturday.

The study, Affordability of the EAT–Lancet reference diet: a global analysis, published recently in The Lancet Global Health, sought to address what many felt was one of the main components lacking in the creation of the recommended diet, namely affordability.

Earlier this year, the EAT-Lancet Commission on Food, Planet, Health published recommendations for a universal diet that addresses both human and planetary health.

“When formulating this pioneering benchmark diet –addressing individual health outcomes as well as the health of the planet – the Commission deliberately did not take its cost into account,” said senior  author William Masters, an economist at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University.

“Although 1.58 billion is a lot of people, it is actually a conservative lower limit on the total number who cannot afford the diet recommended by the EAT-Lancet Commission. The cost of food preparation and of non-food necessities ensure that an even larger number of people cannot afford that kind of healthy diet,” said Masters.

Limitations to the study include that the models count only the least expensive items in each country,so other research would be needed to address the additional costs and barriers to food use imposed by time constraints, tastes and preferences.

Additionally, the study used 2011 prices and nationally aggregated data, so next steps include research on variation within countries as well as over time.

There is also uncertainty regarding the nutritional content of the foods whose prices were used in the study’s models.