Wholesome Nutrition: an example for a sustainable diet


von Koerber K, Bader N, Leitzmann C

Year Published: 





Study Design: 


'Wholesome Nutrition' is a concept of sustainable nutrition that was developed at the University of Giessen in the 1980s. In this concept, health and the ecologic, economic, social and cultural dimensions of nutrition are equally important. In 1992 at the UN-Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro the definition of 'Sustainable Development' comprised the dimensions environment, economy and society. Additionally to these three 'classical' dimensions of sustainability, we included 'health' as the fourth dimension because nutrition has far reaching effects on human health. The fifth dimension, 'culture', became part of the sustainability dialogue since many years; the respective cultural background influences food habits. Presently, mankind has to cope with huge global challenges such as poverty and food insecurity in low-income countries as well as climate change. Therefore the objective is to identify prospects for actions to respond to these global challenges. The concept of 'Sustainable Nutrition' analyses the food supply chain at all stages from input-production and primary production to processing, distribution, preparation, consumption and waste disposal. The present analysis leads to the following seven principles: preference of plant-based foods, organic foods, regional and seasonal products, preference of minimally processed foods, Fair Trade products, resource-saving housekeeping and enjoyable eating culture. This concept is based on holistic thinking and has the potential to reduce the global challenges in the field of nutrition. Scientists, stakeholders, multipliers and consumers are asked to consider environmental, economic, social and cultural aspects in addition to the biological (health) aspects.