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Examining the Environmental Impacts of the Dairy and Baby Food Industries: Are First-Food Systems a Crucial Missing Part of the Healthy and Sustainable Food Systems Agenda Now Underway?

Pope, Daniel H.; Karlsson, Johan O.; Baker, Phillip; McCoy, David


Food systems are increasingly being understood as driving various health and ecological crises and their transformation is recognised as a key opportunity for planetary health. First-food systems represent an underexplored aspect of this transformation. Despite breastfeeding representing the optimal source of infant nutrition, use of commercial milk formula (CMF) is high and growing rapidly. In this review, we examine the impact of CMF use on planetary health, considering in particular its effects on climate change, water use and pollution and the consequences of these effects for human health. Milk is the main ingredient in the production of CMF, making the role of the dairy sector a key area of attention. We find that CMF use has twice the carbon footprint of breastfeeding, while 1 kg of CMF has a blue water footprint of 699 L; CMF has a significant and harmful environmental impact. Facilitation and protection of breastfeeding represents a key part of developing sustainable first-food systems and has huge potential benefits for maternal and child health.


breast milk; commercial milk formula; climate change; environment; water use

Publicerad i

International journal of environmental research and public health
2021, Volym: 18, nummer: 23, artikelnummer: 12678
Utgivare: MDPI

    Globala målen

    SDG2 Ingen hunger
    SDG3 God hälsa och välbefinnande
    SDG6 Rent vatten och sanitet för alla

    UKÄ forskningsämne

    Folkhälsovetenskap, global hälsa, socialmedicin och epidemiologi

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