Carbon and water footprint of food choices by users of a hospital canteen
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University of Udine, Department of Medicine, University of Udine, Udine, Italy
Azienda Sanitaria Universitaria Friuli Centrale
Azienda Sanitaria Universitaria Friuli Centrale, Medical Directorate, Hospital of San Daniele-Tolmezzo, “Azienda Sanitaria Universitaria Friuli Centrale”, San Daniele del Friuli, Udine, Italy
University of Udine; Azienda Sanitaria Universitaria Friuli Centrale, Department of Medicine, University of Udine, Udine, Italy; Accreditation, Quality and Clinical Risk Unit, “Azienda Sanitaria Universitaria Friuli Centrale”, Udine, Italy
Publication date: 2023-04-26
Popul. Med. 2023;5(Supplement):A184
Background and Objective:
Food production is responsible for 30% of global CO2 emission, with beef having the largest impact. In Italy the mean value of CF and WF for meal is 1112±867 gCO2eq. and 1083±858 L. Many articles have highlighted the contribution to a sustainable development through the selection of food. The aim of this study was to evaluate the sustainability of food choices in a hospital canteen

The study was conducted in San Daniele del Friuli hospital for 5 consecutive days in September 2022 taking photo of the lunch trays of workers who have access to the hospital canteen and agree to participate. The participants were also asked to fill in a questionnaire. The photos were taken before the meal was consumed. The carbon footprint (CF) and water footprint (WF) of the recipes were estimated using the SU-EATABLE LIFE database.

We analyzed 240 meals, 201 of which were paired with a completed questionnaire. Participants (N=201) were 61 men and 140 women with a mean age of 49±10 years (median=51). The median CF estimated was 778 (604—1085) gCO2eq./tray and the median WF was 892 (668—1170) LH2O/tray for the lunch meal. A higher median CF (1076 vs. 797 LH2O/tray; p<0.001) and WF (981 vs. 693 gCO2eq./tray; p<0.001) were observed in men compared to women. The 16% of the participants (4 men and 29 women on 201) chose vegetarian and vegan courses.

Carbon and water footprint values were lower than those reported in the literature, with women performing better and showing lower propensity to choose meat than men. Our low values could be related to the canteen menu not containing beef and to the high proportion of women in the sample. Targeted interventions for men may be needed to raise awareness on sustainable diet through food choices.

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