Does planetary health mean population health? Adherence to a planetary health diet and non-communicable disease risk and survival
Approved Research ID: 81738
Approval date: August 19th 2022
More and more people are increasingly interested in plant-based diets (i.e., diets rich in plant-based products that include little, if any, animal products). Apart from their potential health benefits, plant-based diets have been promoted as environmentally sustainable. However, the abundance of non-scientific information online about the health impact of plant-based diets, with its wide range of credibility, is confusing to the public and can, at times, paint plant-based diets in an unfavorable light. Recently, international experts of the influential EAT-Lancet Commission recommended a mostly plant-based, sustainable diet referred to as the 'Planetary Health Diet'. The proposed study aims to investigate if individuals adhering to the planetary health diet proposed by the EAT-Lancet Commission are at a lower risk for major non-communicable diseases. Additionally, we will investigate if people living with non-communicable disease who adhere to the planetary health diet have lower risk of premature death compared to those who do not adhere to the planetary health diet. We predict that people who closely follow the planetary health diet will have lower risk for non-communicable diseases and will live longer than those who do not closely follow the planetary health diet. For our analysis, we will use data from the United Kingdom (UK) Biobank study. It includes information about participants' general health, dietary habits, and lifestyle recorded between 2006 and 2010 throughout the UK. Study participants were followed over time. Newly diagnosed non-communicable diseases, as well incidences of death, were recorded. Having access to such a large dataset will allow us to determine the relationship between the planetary health diet with non-communicable disease risk and death. The information available online about the health impact of plant-based diets, with its astounding range of credibility and scientific basis, is confusing to the public and can paint plant-based diets in an unfavorable light. An influential group of international nutrition experts recently recommended a mainly plant-based diet for its benefits to the environment and human health. This recommendation gained enormous reach in the media. However, the effects of this diet on health have yet to be evaluated. The proposed work, using data from a European-based cohort, will result in high-quality evidence and that will bring clarity to both the public and major stakeholders regarding the health impact of the planetary health diet on non-communicable disease risk and premature death.