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U OF ILLINOIS RESEARCHERS ON HOW WE CAN REDUCE FOOD WASTE AND PROMOTE HEALTHY EATING
Source: U of Illinois news release

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In a recent journal article, University of Illinois researchers Brenna Ellison (left) and Melissa Pflugh Prescott discuss ways to reduce food waste while promoting healthy nutrition. Photo: College of ACES, University of Illinois.
Urbana, IL - Food waste and obesity are major problems in developed countries. They are both caused by an overabundance of food, but strategies to reduce one can inadvertently increase the other. A broader perspective can help identify ways to limit food waste while also promoting healthy nutrition, two University of Illinois researchers suggest.

"You can reduce food waste by obtaining less or eating more. Our concern was that if people are reducing waste by eating more, what does that mean for nutrition? And how do we think about these tradeoffs in a way that promotes both good nutrition outcomes and good food waste outcomes? Public policies have generally focused on either obesity or food waste, but rarely considered them together, says Brenna Ellison, associate professor in the Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics (ACE) at U of I.

Ellison and Melissa Pflugh Prescott, assistant professor in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition (FSHN) at U of I, discuss a systems approach to addressing food waste and nutrition in a new paper, published in Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior.

Food waste refers to the loss of edible food that is not consumed for various reasons. It occurs at all levels of the supply chain, from farm to transportation, processing, retail, food service, and consumer levels.

Food waste is often calculated by weight or by calories, Ellison explains. If you calculate by weight, dairy products, vegetables, grain products, and fruit account for the majority of food loss. But when converted to calories, added fats and oils, grain products, and added sugars and sweeteners are the top categories for food waste. Encouraging increased consumption of those foods could have negative health consequences, she notes.


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