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Development and validation of an individual sustainable diet index in the NutriNet-Santé study cohort

17 / 10 / 19

Finding: This sustainable diet index (SDI) is a useful tool to assess the sustainability of dietary patterns, estimate the association with long term health outcomes and help guide future public health policies.

Summary: This French study aimed to develop and validate a sustainable diet index (SDI), based on the sustainability of dietary patterns as defined by the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organisation). The SDI includes 7 indicators categorised into environmental, nutritional, economic and cultural sub-indexes. Dietary Intake assessment was via a FFQ (Food Frequency Questionnaire), a nutritional index of 24 nutrients compared with French recommendations, and diet-related environmental impact based on a French database of indicators (GHG-Greenhouse Gas emissions, energy consumption, land occupation, and share of organic food as a proxy for biodiversity preservation). SDIs were computed for 29,388 participants in the French NutriNet-Santé cohort, and socio-demographic or lifestyle differences identified. The SDI range was 4-20 and the mean in this cohort was 12.10. The environmental sub-indexes were the most correlated with the SDI while the economic sub-indexes were the least correlated. Participants with the highest SDI scores were most often women (24%), post-secondary graduates (22%) and vegetarians or vegans (7%) without obesity (16%). An increase in SDI was associated with less animal food, alcoholic beverages, fruit juices, soups and sweet foods, and higher amounts of fruits, vegetables and legumes. Content validity showed all sub-indexes contributed independently, warranting their inclusion.

Citation: Seconda L, Baudry J, Pointereau P, Lacour C et al. Development and validation of an individual sustainable diet index in the NutriNet-Santé study cohort. Br J Nutr 2019;121 (10) (open access)