Dietary Changes in Sweden and Belgium During the Late 20th and Early 21st Century and Their Implications for Sustainability

University essay from Uppsala universitet/Institutionen för geovetenskaper


This dissertation focuses on the changing food consumption patterns in Sweden and Belgium during the latter half of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st century and the implications as seen from a sustainability point of view, both from a qualitative and quantitative perspective. It is shown that changes in agriculture, food processing, distribution and consumption during the period under assessment were considerable and had a clear impact on the food consumption pattern in both countries. Statistical data on the consumption of different food groups such as meat, milk and dairy products, fish, fruits, vegetables, cereal, potatoes, sugar, margarine and chocolate were compared. Overall, an increase in the consumption of meat, cheese, yoghurt, cream, fruits and vegetables was observed in both countries, while the consumption of milk, butter and potatoes decreased. For the sustainability assessment three parameters were chosen: land requirement, greenhouse gas emissions and energy use. The assessment was based on quantitative data about food consumption in 1960 and 2004. It was shown that the Swedish and Belgian diets in 2004 required more resources and emitted more greenhouse gas emissions than in 1960. The Belgian diet had higher values for all parameters than the Swedish, except when considering the values for the emissions of greenhouse gases in 1960 when the Swedish diet had higher values.

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