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The research, published today in The Lancet, is the strongest evidence yet that climate change could have damaging consequences for food production and health worldwide.
The modelling study led by Dr Marco Springmann is the first of its kind to assess the impact of climate change on diet composition and bodyweight. The study estimates the number of deaths these two factors will cause in 2050 in 155 countries.
It reveals that, unless action is taken to reduce global emissions, climate change could cut the projected improvement in food availability by about a third by 2050, and lead to average per-person reductions in food availability of 3.2% (99 kcal per day), in fruit and vegetable intake of 4.0% (14.9g per day), and red meat consumption of 0.7% (0.5g per day).
Dr Springmann said: 'We found that in 2050, these changes could be responsible for around 529,000 extra deaths. We looked at the health effects of changes in agricultural production that are likely to result from climate change and found that even modest reductions in the availability of food per person could lead to changes in the energy content and composition of diets, and these changes will have major consequences for health.'