SP.20.011 – Accounting for diversity in achieving sustainable diets

Route: Sustainable production of safe and healthy food

Cluster question: 015 How can we make agricultural production systems more sustainable as the worldwide demand for healthy, safe food continues to grow?

Climate change poses the greatest challenge to human survival on this planet. Preventing and mitigating climate change means that the development of sustainable food systems while encouraging the population to adopt more sustainable dietary practices. However, although some segments of society are actively engaged in reducing the carbon footprint of their diet, e.g. by adopting a more plant-based diet, on average, Dutch people consume higher levels of animal-based foods that is recommended by the Netherlands Nutrition Centre. Clearly there is room for improvement.
Despite the fact that we know what needs to be done and its potential benefits, achieving dietary change at the population level remains difficult. This is not surprising given the complexity of factors that drive diet. Dietary intake goes beyond environmental considerations and the need for nutrition and health. It is anchored in cultural values, and shared conventions that contribute to defining people’s identities both at the individual and group level. For this reason achieving population level change needs to take into account the diversity within the Dutch population, including accounting for the increasing ethnic diversity in the Netherlands.
Overall aim: To develop an understanding of the conditions needed to achieve sustainable, healthy, inclusive and culturally acceptable diets while meeting the needs of an increasingly multi-ethnic population.
Approach: We will apply a systems approach in which the consumer food environment is seen as the product of a complex interaction between components/actors at different spatio-temporal scales.
To develop an understanding of this complex system we will use a ‘Living Lab’ methodology which includes a multi-method approach including research through design, qualitative and quantitative studies of food intake in a real-life setting.
Multiple stakeholders including policy makers, food producers, industry, retailers and consumers will be engaged.


cultural acceptability, dietary behaviour, ethnic diversity

Other organisations

Aeres University of Applied Sciences, Almere, Department of Health Sciences, Faculty of Industrial Design Engineering, Technische Universiteit Delft (TUD), Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU)


Organisation Department of Public and Occupationsl Health, Amsterdam UMC, University of Amsterdam (UvA)
Name Dr. M. (Mary) Nicolaou
E-mail m.nicolaou@amsterdamumc.nl