Modelling the likely impact of healthy eating guidelines on agricultural production and land use in England and Wales
Arnoult, M. H., Jones, P. J., Tranter, R. B., Tiffin, J. R., Traill, W. B. and Tzanopoulos, J. (2010) Modelling the likely impact of healthy eating guidelines on agricultural production and land use in England and Wales. Land Use Policy, 27 (4). pp. 1046-1055. ISSN 0264-8377
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To link to this article DOI: 10.1016/j.landusepol.2010.02.001
Quadratic programming techniques were applied to household food consumption data in England and Wales to estimate likely changes in diet under healthy eating guidelines, and the consequences this would have on agriculture and land use in England and Wales. The first step entailed imposing nutrient restrictions on food consumption following dietary recommendations suggested by the UK Department of Health. The resulting diet was used, in a second step as a proxy for demand in agricultural commodities, to test the impact of such a scenario on food production and land use in England and Wales and the impacts of this on agricultural landscapes. Results of the diet optimisation indicated a large drop in consumption of foods rich in saturated fats and sugar, essentially cheese and sugar-based products, along with lesser cuts of fat and meat products. Conversely, consumption of fruit and vegetables, cereals, and flour would increase to meet dietary fibre recommendations. Such a shift in demand would dramatically affect production patterns: the financial net margin of England and Wales agriculture would rise, due to increased production of high market value and high economic margin crops. Some regions would, however, be negatively affected, mostly those dependent on beef cattle and sheep production that could not benefit from an increased demand for cereals and horticultural crops. The effects of these changes would also be felt in upstream industries, such as animal feed suppliers. While arable dominated landscapes would be little affected, pastoral landscapes would suffer through loss of grazing management and, possibly, land abandonment, especially in upland areas.
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