The Leading A Sustainability Transition In Nutrition Globally (LASTING) Project aims to produce evidence-based recommendations, methods, and metrics for integrated sustainability assessment of dietary patterns. Our four-pillar approach to sustainability encompasses environmental, health, economic, and social outcomes.
Our mission is to put diets at the core of science and policy to improve all four pillars of sustainability simultaneously.
Current dietary patterns are unsustainable, representing fundamental threats to human nutrition and health, ecosystems and climate, economic stability and social equity. Poor diets are the main contributor to the global burden of disease, accounting for 20% of premature disease-mediated mortality worldwide, with more than 3 billion people suffering one or more manifestations of poor nutrition: undernutrition, overweight/obesity and/or micronutrient deficiencies. The environmental impacts of dietary patterns are already transgressing several planetary boundaries, with impacts projected to increase 50-92% by 2050 in the absence of rapid, large-scale mitigation. Finally, a significant fraction of the global population farms, fishes, or labor in food value chains, performing low-wage, often dangerous work insufficient to provide food security.
Despite recent advances, there are major gaps in diet sustainability research and policy translation. Analyses have largely focused on human health and environmental impacts. Sustainability, however, encompasses four pillars: environmental, health, economic, and social. Omitting social and economic dimensions of diet sustainability means that policies risk exacerbating existing social inequities or are unlikely to be followed. Even when complementary metrics are incorporated analytically, it is unclear how to implement needed shifts in diets. To design effective policies that shift consumption, context-specific analyses of consumer behavior and values regarding diet sustainability issues are needed.
While critical to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, expanding dietary analyses to include all four pillars creates challenges for translation to policy. Adding new considerations increases uncertainty and the likelihood of trade-offs. Innovative methods are needed to standardize, weigh, and visualize impacts to be able to provide context-specific, actionable guidance. This is why the LASTING team has come together. We hope to establish Tufts as a leader in evaluating sustainable transitions in global food systems through development of robust metrics and communication through high-impact publications.
How We Work
The LASTING Project is comprised of a cohesive, experienced team of researchers with expertise in team science and a commitment to transdisciplinary work. The team represents the Friedman School, international and domestic research, and a diverse network of colleagues and collaborators spanning the globe. We are food systems scientists, nutrition epidemiologists, economists and policy experts that are committed to working together at the intersection of the four pillars, with a passion to generate new evidence that can inform change both in the US and globally.
The LASTING Project (2021-2025) is funded by the Friedman School Research Award for Interdisciplinary Nutrition Study (RAFINS) award, a generous anonymous donation to the school that provided an opportunity for the team to think about priorities for interdisciplinary research and broader needs, rather than responding to a more targeted call from traditional funders.