PhD student: Joséphine Brunin

Title: Current dietary transitions: assessment, characterization and sustainability impacts

Supervisor: Emmanuelle Kesse-Guyot

Doctoral school: Galilée

Promotion: 2020-2023

Funding: ADEME et INRAE

Thesis summary: 

Diets have a considerable impact on both climate change and the depletion of natural resources and have a major impact on health. In a context of urgency, it is more than necessary for all stakeholders in food systems to transition towards sustainable diets. This thesis proposes an assessment, characterization, and identification of the sustainability impacts of food transitions over a 4-year period. To achieve these aims, dietary changes were described and identified. Then, we investigated some of the factors driving changes in dietary behavior. Finally, the optimization of dietary changes to achieve sustainability was approached.

The research in this thesis uses data from the NutriNet-Santé cohort, and more specifically the data collected by the BioNutriNet project. This database includes, for both 2014 and 2018, data relating to food consumption, the environmental pressures of this consumption and food prices according to place of purchase while distinguishing the mode of production (organic or conventional farming). These data are used to approach sustainability using the SDI (Sustainable Dietary Index) score. In addition, socio-demographic, lifestyle, anthropometric and food purchase motivation data complete and detail our analyses.

Our findings provide an overview of sustainable food transitions over a 4-year period. It highlights, when they have occurred, relatively slow dietary changes towards sustainability, even though our population is more sensitive to health issues. Moreover, only part of the population is involved, mainly women, younger people, and those with higher levels of school education.

This provides an opportunity to underline the fact that, even in a rather sensitive population, changes are not sufficiently significant compared to current objectives and urgency. Consumers don’t seem to be able to rapidly achieve dietary changes individually. This is why we need to support them in their transition and implement effective, targeted public health initiatives. In addition, this research also enables us to target a population that is not inclined to change, and to orient public policies in their favour.


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