Plant-Based Foods Could Save A Country Billions

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“Our research demonstrates that increasing plant-based eating is cost-effective, reduces economic costs, such as hospital admissions and doctors’ bills, as well as increasing the number of healthy years people live, and enabling them to continue having an active life,”

Lieven Annemans

Professor of Health Economics at Ghent University,

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Eating Our Landscape Could Prove To Be Profitable as Well as Healthy

14 February 2018 Ghent University

Billions of euro could be saved from a country’s annual health bill if more people can be persuaded to follow a plant-based diet, according to new research published in the Journal of Nutrition. Also society overall will benefit due to less absenteeism from work.

The study looked at the health and economic consequences of two plant-based eating patterns, a diet with a daily portion of soya foods and a Mediterranean-style diet.

The study suggests the British government could reduce its healthcare and societal costs over the next 20 years by £5.21 billion if just 10% of the UK population would emphasize plant-based foods in their diet. Cost savings could be as high as £7.54 billion if 10% of the UK population could be encouraged to incorporate soya products in their daily diet.

“Our research demonstrates that increasing plant-based eating is cost-effective, reduces economic costs, such as hospital admissions and doctors’ bills, as well as increasing the number of healthy years people live, and enabling them to continue having an active life,” said Lieven Annemans, professor of health economics at Ghent University, and the lead author of the paper. “Our study has the potential to contribute to the way healthy eating is promoted,” he added.

There are different approaches to plant-based eating, from Mediterranean-type diets through to vegetarian and veganism. Plant-based eating is in line with the latest government dietary guidelines, the Eatwell Guide. In other words, plant-based eating does not have to exclude all animal products, but places plant-based foods such as soya, fruits, vegetables, wholegrains, nuts, seeds and vegetable oils at the core of the diet.

The researchers carried out an extensive review of the scientific literature and concluded that both plant-based and soya eating patterns reduce the risk of diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, stroke and certain cancers. Diets containing soya demonstrated the most favorable health effects from the two evaluated plant-based food patterns.

The researchers calculated the impact of these plant-based food patterns on ‘quality adjusted life years’ (QALYs), which estimate the number of expected years of good health. To calculate disease costs, a societal perspective was taken, including direct and indirect costs. Direct costs are those directly associated with the disease or related conditions including costs related to diagnosis and treatment. Indirect costs include employment related elements such as absenteeism, and productivity loss due to sickness.

For the UK, a diet containing soya is estimated to yield 159 QALYs and 100 QALYs per 1,000 women and men, respectively. Similarly, adherence to a plant-based Mediterranean-type diet also results in living longer in good health and cost-savings to society.

Professor Ian Rowland, professor in nutrition from Reading University, supported the findings of the new study and commented: “Emphasizing plant-based foods in your diet can help to improve nutrition and meet current dietary recommendations. More plant-based eating helps against a variety of diseases which many people are currently confronted with. In addition to the personal health benefits, it can also help reduce society’s healthcare costs.”

This study provides yet more reasons to eat more plant-based foods and is in line with the UK ‘Eatwell guide’ which champions plant-based foods for good health and sustainability. It follows a report published by the Sustainable Food Trust in November – The Hidden Cost Of UK Food – which found that poor diets add 37p of healthcare costs to every £1 spent on food.

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Top Food Trends In 2014

Layout 1As we close out 2013 and navigate the foodie pleasures that tradition dictates, let’s not lose sight of the calendar ‘do over’ that a New Year brings. We get to reset our awareness, attention, appreciation, anticipation and most importantly, our actions. This is particularly effective when it’s in service to our food.  —  we can do this one bite at a time because that’s how it usually happens.

Here are some of the top 10 food trends we’ll be hearing about as the New Year envelops our actions and our ability to play and master the “Is It Healthy?” Game.  Get set for your best healthy eating New Year ever.

Long live those kale recipes, exotic grains and vegetables. Food, real food will be taking a larger role, in awareness and in tasty experiments. Deeper connections to the farm will be a big part of our expanding awareness. Our food and our environment will become more obvious to lots more of us.

Protein has a big future as food manufacturers go macro in their marketing benefit strategies.  It’s a lot simpler to tout protein , carbohydrates and fats than it is to explain why all the fillers, additives and preservatives are also part of the package.  Consumers will get better educated and much savvier in the process. The food products in the marketplace will have to compete on food value instead of marketing hype and that’s good for all consumers.

Chef’s picks for the top ten food trends for 2014 according to the National Restaurant Association’s Top 20  include gluten free items gaining ground.  Gluten Free Pastas

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The Food Channel says bread will rise to the top of awareness along with cell phone obsessed appetizer pairings.

Supermarket News reports that healthy and flavorful, tastes from Turkey, Israel and other areas of the Middle East will join pizza, garlic and chickpeas in popularity.

Watch for chefs riding a trend toward dairy-free to go nuts with nut milks and sauces.

Restaurants in retail sores make a comeback. Thirty years ago, retails stores kicked out their restaurants. They were too messy and not profitable enough. Big mistake. Now retailers are rediscovering the added profits from ‘dwell time’ spent by keeping hungry customers in the store. We’ve seen it in book stores with coffee shops, but retail and food always make sense. If you fed hungry customers, they’d stick around and buy more besides the food they ate.

Watch for more locally sourced food in restaurants. Super Market Guru predicts the The Emergence of the “IndieWoman”. Almost 31 million strong, the “IndieWoman” is 27 and older, lives alone and has no children and spends $50 billion on food and beverages each year. They have no time, so look for more brands to offer more semi-homemade meals that use fresh, high-quality ingredients.

Brussel SproutsTake a closer look at 2014’s trends on Pinterest to get your appetite going. The top eight healthy trends of 2014 include brussel sprouts and leafy greens in everything.

The conference and meeting industry makes a nod to healthy food along with Asian inspired and experienced based trends that are  fun, entertaining or even one item pleasures.

The key trend is consumers making deeper connections to their food in 2014.  Tasty, fun and healing are not incompatible and the New Year will bring new opportunities for all of us to master the “Is It Healthy?” Game one bite at a time.



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