Sustainability Indicators for Foods Benefiting Climate and Health

Anna Strid,Elinor Hallström, Ulf Sonesson, Josefin Sjons, Anna Winkvist and Marta Bianchi
Resource type:
Peer review

New methods for combined evaluation of nutritional and environmental aspects of food products are needed to enable a transformation of dietary guidelines integrating both health and environmental perspectives. We evaluated two sustainability aspects; nutrition and climate impact, of foods commonly consumed in Sweden and the implications of using parallel or integrated assessments of these two aspects, also discussing the usability and suitability of these food sustainability indicators in relation to Swedish dietary guidelines, industry food product development, and consumer communication. There were large differences in both nutrient density and climate impact among the different foods. The parallel assessment easily visualized synergies and trade-offs between these two sustainability aspects for the different foods. Coherence with dietary guidelines was good, and suitability and usability deemed satisfying. The integrated indicator showed better coherence with dietary guidelines than indicators based solely on nutrient density or climate impact; however, the difficulty to interpret the score limits its usability in product development and consumer communication. With both methods, advantageous as well as less advantageous plant-based and animal-based food alternatives were suggested. The two alternative methods evaluated could serve as useful tools to drive individual and societal development towards more sustainable food production and consumption.


This resource has been peer reviewed