Improving sustainability of current food systems may prevent future health, environmental and social concerns. In addition to these positive impacts, a new study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition provides evidence that adopting sustainable dietary patterns may also help lower risk of weight gain, overweight and obesity.

Based on responses to a validated food frequency questionnaire, researchers Louise Seconda (Université Paris) and colleagues computed a ratio of total organic food consumption relative to total food consumption. The Sustainable Diet Index, which includes four sub-indexes, respectively: environmental, nutritional, economic, and sociocultural, was used to assess diet sustainability. Sub-indexes were summed to obtain a Sustainable Diet Index score; a maximum score of 20, reflecting higher sustainability of the diet. The study objectives were to investigate the association between these sustainable dietary patterns and 1) weight gain over time and 2) the risk of overweight and obesity using longitudinal data in a prospective cohort of French adults. At the baseline and each year of follow-up, participants were asked to report their weight and height, which was used to compute body mass index of each individual.

Body weight remained relatively constant over time among participants adopting more sustainable dietary practices, while a slight increase was observed for participants with lower scores. In total, 281 incident cases of obesity and 777 cases of overweight were identified during the follow-up.  The study sample, composed of 15,626 participants, highlighted a linear association between a higher Sustainable Dietary Score and a lower risk of obesity and overweight. This study supports the association between sustainable dietary patterns and outcomes related to body weight or risk of obesity. Beyond the positive impact of sustainable diets for environmental and social issues, the beneficial impact on health must not be overlooked.

Reference. Seconda L, Egnell M, Julia C, Touvier M, Hercberg S, Pointereau P, Lairon D, Allès B,Kesse-Guyot E.Association between sustainable dietary patterns and body weight, overweight and obesity risk in the NutriNet-Santé prospective cohort.The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, nqz259,

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