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Feeding the Ten Billion

Our diets are becoming less healthy, and global food production is increasingly unsustainable. A new report suggests that the planet can sustainably provide a healthy diet for ten billion people in the future, but only if we make big changes in what we eat and how we produce it.

STOCKHOLM – Our current diets are bad for our health and are harming the planet. Two billion people are now overweight or obese. Poor diet is the biggest cause of noncommunicable disease in the world, posing a greater risk of morbidity and mortality than unsafe sex, alcohol, tobacco, and drug abuse combined.

The way we produce and consume this food, meanwhile, damages Earth’s life-support system. It accounts for about one-quarter of greenhouse-gas emissions and is the biggest cause of land-use change, biodiversity loss, and water extraction, leaving rivers dried out.

The sheer volume of books on healthy eating and weight loss suggests that people want to move to healthier diets. But few countries are taking action to improve diets and preserve the environment. The big question is whether we can sustainably provide a healthy diet to a global population that is projected to reach ten billion by 2050.

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