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Research article2020Peer reviewedOpen access

Benchmarking the Swedish Diet Relative to Global and National Environmental Targets-Identification of Indicator Limitations and Data Gaps

Moberg, Emma; Potter, Hanna Karlsson; Wood, Amanda; Hansson, Per-Anders; Roos, Elin


To reduce environmental burdens from the food system, a shift towards environmentally sustainable diets is needed. In this study, the environmental impacts of the Swedish diet were benchmarked relative to global environmental boundaries suggested by the EAT-Lancet Commission. To identify local environmental concerns not captured by the global boundaries, relationships between the global EAT-Lancet variables and the national Swedish Environmental Objectives (SEOs) were analysed and additional indicators for missing aspects were identified. The results showed that the environmental impacts caused by the average Swedish diet exceeded the global boundaries for greenhouse gas emissions, cropland use and application of nutrients by two- to more than four-fold when the boundaries were scaled to per capita level. With regard to biodiversity, the impacts caused by the Swedish diet transgressed the boundary by six-fold. For freshwater use, the diet performed well within the boundary. Comparison of global and local indicators revealed that the EAT-Lancet variables covered many aspects included in the SEOs, but that these global indicators are not always of sufficiently fine resolution to capture local aspects of environmental sustainability, such as eutrophication impacts. To consider aspects and impact categories included in the SEO but not currently covered by the EAT-Lancet variables, such as chemical pollution and acidification, additional indicators and boundaries are needed. This requires better inventory data on e.g., pesticide use and improved traceability for imported foods.


food consumption; environmentally sustainable diets; EAT-Lancet; Planetary Boundaries; Swedish Environmental Objectives; environmental indicators

Published in

2020, Volume: 12, number: 4, article number: 1407
Publisher: MDPI