Study: Planetary diet too costly for Indians

Nearly one in four people in the world can’t afford the planetary diet that was recommended by the EAT Lancet Commission last January.

According to a study conducted by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), published in the Lancet Global Health on Thursday, the planetary sustainable diet costs around $2.84 per person per day (Rs 200) – which exceeded the average daily income of 1.58 billion people in 2011.

Most of these people missing the mark belong to sub-Saharan Africa (57.2%) and southern Asia (38.4%), including India.

The recommended healthy diet consists of approximately half a plate of vegetables and fruits by volume, while the other half comprises whole grains, plant protein sources, unsaturated plant oils and modest quantities of animal sources of protein.

“Although 1.58 billion is a lot of people, it is actually a conservative lower limit on the total number who cannot afford the diet recommended by the EAT Lancet Commission. The cost of food preparation and of non-food necessities ensure that an even larger number of people cannot afford that kind of healthy diet,” said co-author Will Masters, an economist at the Friedman School of Nutrition at Tufts.

More than 2.5 billion people worldwide suffer from malnutrition – with 800 million people undernourished, 2 billion overweight or obese and over 2 billion with micronutrient deficiencies.

“Having any complete and balanced diet would definitely be expensive,” said Dr R Hemalatha, director, National Institute of Nutrition.

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