Assessing Indicators and Limits for a Sustainable Everyday Nutrition

Melanie Lukas, Holger Rohn, Michael Lettenmeier, Christa Liedtke, Monika Wirges, Klaus Wiesen, Johanna Schweißinger, Charlotte von Lenthe


Human nutrition is responsible for about 30% of the global natural resource use. In order to decrease resource use to a level in line with planetary boundaries, a resource use reduction in the nutrition sector by a factor 2 is suggested. A large untapped potential to increase resource efficiency and improve consumers’ health status is assumed, but valid indicators and general guidelines to assess these impacts and limits can barely be found. Therefore we will have a try to define sustainable limits towards the individuals’ daily diet and therefore stimulate current available scientific debate.
Within the paper an examination of existing indicators and assessment methods is carried out. We set the focus on health indicators, such as energy intake, and environmental indicators, such as the carbon or material footprint. The paper aims to provide first, an assessment of core indicators to explore the sustainability impact of foodstuff, and second, a deeper understanding and a discussion of sustainable limits for those dimensions of food and nutrition. Therefore we will discuss several ecological and health indicators which may be suitable to assess the sustainabilty impact and indicate differences or similarities. As a result it becomes obvious that several ecological indicators “point in the same direction” and therefore a discussion about the variability and the variety of these indicators has to be faced in the future. Further the definition of sustainable levels per indicator is an essential aspect to get an idea about the needed barriers for a sustainable nutrition, by now first steps had been made, but no binding guidelines are available yet. Therefore the paper suggests a few indications to set up sustainable levels for health and environmental indicators, based on the idea to reduce the resource use level up to 30-50% in 2030.

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ISSN 2194-511X


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