Nutritional quality and carbon footprint of university students' diets: results from the EHU12/24 study
Objective: To evaluate diets in terms of nutritional characteristics and quality from the perspectives of health, greenhouse gas emissions (GHGE) and possible associations with each other in a representative sample of students at a public university.
Design: Cross-sectional. Dietary intake was evaluated with a validated FFQ, and diet quality was assessed through the Healthy Eating Index (HEI-2010) and MedDietScore (MDS). GHGE data were obtained from the literature. In addition, sex, socio-economic status (SES) and body fat (BF) status were analysed as covariates.
Setting: Basque Autonomous Community, Spain.
Participants: Totally, 26 165 healthy adults aged 18-28 years.
Results: Student diets were characterised by low consumption of carbohydrates (38·72 % of total energy intake (TEI)) and a high intake of lipids (39·08 % of TEI). Over half of the participants had low dietary quality. The low-emitting diets were more likely to be consumed by subjects with low HEI-2010 scores (β: 0·039 kg eCO2/1000 kcal/d) and high MDS scores (β: -0·023 kg eCO2/1000 kcal/d), after controlling for sex, SES and BF status. Both the low-emitting and healthy diets were more likely to be consumed by women and by those with normal BF percentage.
Conclusions: UPV/EHU university students' diets were characterised by moderate quality from a nutritional perspective and moderate variation in the size of carbon footprints. In this population, diets of the highest quality were not always those with the lowest diet-related GHGE; this relationship depended in part on the constructs and scoring criteria of diet quality indices used.
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