Working towards a combined measure for describing environmental impact and nutritive value of foods: A review

Vasilis Grigoriadis*, Anne Nugent, Paul Brereton

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


There is a need for an internationally agreed approach that assesses both nutritive value and environmental impact that can be used to influence key stakeholders to provide food that delivers our future societal needs in terms of environmental sustainability and diet. Recent research has started to propose and assess methods and systems for measuring both aspects in one metric.

Scope and approach:
A search of literature was carried out to identify the methodological frameworks that combine the assessment of the environmental impacts of the food supply chain with the nutritional content of food intakes. This review assesses and critiques the different approaches that have been used over recent years and identifies gaps in current knowledge and implications for policy and industry stakeholders that currently hinder future implementation.

Key findings and conclusions:
Eighty-one papers were included for analysis in the review. Although Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) is overwhelmingly the approach of choice for most environmental assessments, a wide range of different approaches exist for assessing the nutritive value of food intake. The combination of the environmental and nutritional assessment can be grouped into four approaches (indices, programming optimization, statistical analysis and graphical representation). Using these methods researchers are now assessing food intakes and foods based on both their environmental and nutritional benefits to provide an overall assessment of foods, current vs optimized diets and menus, and to study the relationship between nutrition and environmental sustainability. Future research needs to address and harmonise what are the essential components to be included of environmental and nutrition assessment as well as wider aspects of sustainability (e.g., affordability and acceptability) and policy and stakeholder implications.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)298-311
Number of pages14
JournalTrends in Food Science and Technology
Early online date16 Apr 2021
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jun 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021

Copyright 2021 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Food intake Nutrition Environmental impact Sustainability assessment Food system

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


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