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Seminar / 31st March 2022 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm

LIDA Seminar Series 31st March 2022

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Presentation 1: Developing a Carbon Footprint Calculator for Leeds City Council

By: Alexandra Dalton

Abstract: Our food system is a significant contributor to climate change. Recent findings suggest the global food system accounts for over one third of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. This project, in partnership with Leeds City Council (LCC), is designed to address the environmental issues arising from our food system as part of LCC’s net zero journey.

Our team at the University of Leeds’ Consumer Data Research Centre is developing a ‘carbon footprint calculator’ – an interactive dashboard to evaluate the carbon footprint of primary school meals across Leeds using open data.

Leeds City Council’s school meals service, ‘Catering Leeds’, have already introduced a ‘climate-friendly menu’ in primary schools across the city. This project is the next step to investigate school menus’ current carbon footprint and equip school children and canteen facilities with the knowledge to explore reducing it.

The project has two key aims:

  • Develop an interactive ‘carbon footprint calculator’.
  • To profile the carbon footprint of school meals from 5 schools for a 7 week period in 2021

The dashboard, in the form of a web application, will be available for use by the council and schools. Menus can simply be uploaded to the dashboard, which will then generate carbon emission estimates for each meal.

Presentation 1:Do healthy diets tend to be environmentally friendly and affordable? Evidence from the UK National Diet and Nutrition Survey

By: Maria Galazoula

Abstract: Sustainable diets are defined as healthy and nutritious, respectful of the environment and affordable. Existing studies show that dietary patterns, especially in western countries, do not comply with nutritional guidelines and have a considerable environmental footprint in terms of greenhouse gas emissions.  Few studies explore other environmental indicators or the diet costs.

This study explores associations between diet quality, multiple environmental indicators and diet costs using data from the UK’s National Diet and Nutrition Survey. For each participant an average diet was estimated based on their food diaries, a diet quality score was assigned, and the environmental impact in terms of the greenhouse gas emissions (GHGE), land use, freshwater withdrawals and daily cost of diet were calculated.

Regarding the diet quality, only 32% of the participants had an acceptable diet quality. Diets had a mean 5.6 kg CO2 eq/day of GHGE, 6.7 m2year/day land use, 604 l/day of freshwater withdrawals and cost £5.10 per day per person. Diets were categorised in quarters based on the distribution of the diet quality score, increasing in diet quality. Regression models were fit to explore associations between diet quality and aspects of diet sustainability. The highest quality diets from the fourth quarter were associated with lower GHGE (on average -1.3 kg CO2eq (95% CI -1.5, -1.0)), less land use (-5.5 m2year/day (95% CI -7.0, -5.0)) and cheaper (-£0.45 (95% CI -0.75, -0.16)) compared to the diets of the lowest quality diets in the first quarter. There was a slight increase in the freshwater withdrawals in the fourth quarter with 24 l/day (95% CI -4, 53) compared to diets in the first quarter.

Healthier diets have on average lower dietary cost and environmental footprint in terms of GHGE and land use compared to unhealthy diets. Caution must be taken when proposing dietary changes, as higher quality diets were associated with slightly higher freshwater withdrawals. On average, healthy diets can be environmentally friendly and affordable.


31st March 2022
12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
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