Livestock, Environment And People (LEAP)

Understanding the health and environmental consequences of eating more meat and dairy

Wellcome Trust, Oxford Martin, Oxford University logos

Supported by the Wellcome Trust Our Planet Our Health Programme. 

The Livestock, Environment and People (LEAP) Project addresses the consequences of the global increase in the consumption of meat, dairy and other animal-sourced foods and how it affects the environment and human health. It focuses on how to achieve changes towards more sustainable and healthy diets.

Co-Directors: Professor Sir Charles Godfray and Professor Susan Jebb.

News

The Livestock, Environment and People Project is now up and running. Contact Kelly Reed, LEAP Project Manager, for further information or to get involved kelly.reed@zoo.ox.ac.uk.

Public Lecture: "Innovating Food Systems To Respond To Rapid Global Changes" With Dr Shenggen Fan, Director General of the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI). 7 February 2018.

New partnerships to tackle health and environmental issues

Introduction

Our partnership, led by the Oxford Martin School at the University of Oxford, aims to study the multiple effects of the changing fraction of animal-sourced food (notably meat and dairy) in global diets. The Project seeks to understand the factors that determine the amount of meat and dairy we eat, and the consequences for population health; it will also explore the varying environmental consequences of different types of livestock production. An important goal of the project is to assess the effectiveness of different interventions, including developing models to understand the effects of different policies, and provide tools for policy makers working in health, agriculture and the environment.

The Project is supported by the Wellcome Trust’s Our Planet Our Health Programme. It is one of four major interdisciplinary research interdisciplinary research partnerships in the areas of global food systems and urbanization, which were announced in early 2017.

The project is a collaboration between Oxford University, the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), the supermarket group Sainsbury’s and The Nature Conservancy.  It will work with other organisations interested in this topic and in particular with the Sustainable and Healthy Food Systems (SHEFS) project led by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and also funded as part of the Our Planet Our Health programme

The LEAP Project is co-directed by Professor Charles Godfray (Hope Professor and Director of the Oxford Martin Future of Food Programme) and Professor Susan Jebb (Professor of Diet and Population Health, Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences).

Contact Kelly Reed, LEAP Project Manager, kelly.reed@zoo.ox.ac.uk

Project themes

1. Modelling the Food System

A multidisciplinary framework to refine the estimates of the health and environmental impact of meat and dairy in food systems. 
 
We currently lack a comprehensive quantitative framework to understand the consequences for global health, the environment and the economy of future trends in production and consumption of animal-sourced foods (ASFs), or a means of assessing the impact of potential interventions. This theme will develop such a framework and in doing so provide the scaffold to synthesise outputs from across all the themes. The work will be carried out in partnership with the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), building on an existing collaboration linking a unique global dietary health model developed at Oxford with IFPRI’s IMPACT model, a major economic food system model with biophysical (crop, water and climate change) inputs.
 
Investigators
Lead: Dr Peter Scarborough, Nuffield Department of Population Health.
Co-I: Dr Keith Wiebe, IFPRI.
Dr Marco Springmann, Nuffield Department of Population Health.
Professor Mike Rayner Nuffield Department of Population Health.
Dr Mike Clarke, Nuffield Department of Population Health.
 

2. Enabling Change

An analysis of the social and political-economic context in which food system decisions are made to guide implementation.
 
This theme aims to understand the social and political-economic dimensions of change in ASF consumption. It will identify the patterns, drivers and power relations of ASF. Building on the evidence generated by other strands of the project, it will explore obstacles to change and how they might be overcome. The work will be organised so that it will address the three streams of policymaking: identifying the problem (and attracting policymakers’ attention); proposing feasible and socially acceptable policies; and working with politics to enable policy change.
 
The principal activities will include: (i) systematic political economic analysis of the drivers and dynamics of ASF; (ii) mapping the framing of discourses and scenarios around ASF offered by different stakeholders; (iii) qualitative and quantitative analysis of changing social norms; (vi) public and stakeholder dialogue exercises to understand changing attitudes to ASF; and (v) ethnographic and observational analysis of food practices; (vi) policy-oriented digests of evidence in contentious areas related to ASFs.
 
Investigators
Lead: Dr Jamie Lorimer, School of Geography and the Environment.
Co-I: Dr Tara Garnett, FCRN.
Dr Alexandra Sexton, Department of Zoology.
Dr Nathan Clay, Department of Zoology

3. Diet, Health and Behaviour

Assessing the health consequences of consuming ASFs and testing behavioural interventions to reduce the intake of meat and dairy products.
 
ASFs are nutrient-dense foods and important sources of protein and micronutrients such as iron and calcium. But they are also major sources of saturated fatty acids, and some types of meat contain components which may increase the risk for certain cancers. Conversely, diets that are very low in animal products may increase the risk of dietary deficiencies with adverse effects on health. This theme will provide quantitative estimates of key health risks from the consumption of meat and dairy products, and assess the impact of foods which can substitute for these products. Further it will develop and test behavioural interventions to reduce meat and dairy intake. This will include studies to understand the public acceptability of meat substitutes and the extent to which they can contribute to reductions in meat intake and, in  collaboration with Sainsbury’s, a series of interventions in a retail environment to test strategies to support customers to change their purchasing habits.
 
Investigators
Lead: Professor Susan Jebb, Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences.
Co-I: Professor Paul Aveyard, Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences.
Co-I: Professor Tim Key, Nuffield Department of Population Health.
Dr Kathryn Bradbury, Nuffield Department of Population Health.
Dr Tammy Tong, Nuffield Department of Population Health.
Dr Brian Cook, Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences.
Ms Emma Cartwright, Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences.
Mr Filippo Bianchi, Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences.
Dr Aurora Perez-Cornago, Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences.
Dr Christina Potter, Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences.

4. Environment

New quantitative methods for assessing the interactions between ASF and the environment.
 
This theme will evaluate the environmental impacts of changes in ASF consumption and will identify environmentally benign interventions. There are three key activities in this theme:
i) In collaboration with The Nature Conservancy we will investigate the relationships between ASF and land use. We will study how changes in ASF affect land conversion, biodiversity and ecosystems which then feedback to affect global food supply.
ii) We will use global assessment models to explore the interaction between the interplay between water resources, agriculture, food and health. We will examine the effects of water shocks on human health and the possibility for optimising diets to lead to environmentally benign outcomes. We will build on existing models to determine the effects of a range of ASF production systems on water supply and quality, at both local and global scales.
iii) Greenhouse emissions are typically expressed as CO2 equivalents, however CO2, CH4 and N2O differ greatly in their effects on the climate. Similarly different livestock production methods differ in the spectrum of GHGs they produce. We aim to better understand the global warming implications of a variety of different models of ASF consumptions, across a range of time scales.
 
Investigators
Lead: Professor Jim Hall, Environmental Change Institute.
Co-I: Professor Ray Pierrehumbert, Department of Physics.
Co-I: Dr Joseph Kiesecker, Global Conservation Lands Program, The Nature Conservancy.
Dr Guoyong Leng, Environmental Change Institute.

5. Public Engagement with Research

Stimulating debate and informing public attitudes.
 
This theme aims to raise informed debate and generate ideas for the planned interventions to be tested as part of the research programme. The activities will also enable the research team to interact directly with various public constituencies and to exchange ideas throughout the course of the research programme, during the design, conduct and dissemination of the research, for the benefit of both parties. The expectation is that all researchers involved in the LEAP project will take part in public engagement activities and we will engage a range of people including: young and adult populations; inner-city and rural communities; and different socio-economic backgrounds.
 
Investigators
Lead: Professor Susan Jebb, Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences.
Senior Advisor: Dr Lesley Paterson, Research Services (Public Engagement with Research).
Ms Helen Adams, LEAP Public Engagement Coordinator.
 

Partners

The project is a collaboration between Oxford University, the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), the supermarket group Sainsbury’s and The Nature Conservancy.  It will work with other organisations interested in this topic and in particular with the Sustainable and Healthy Food Systems (SHEFS) project led by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and also funded as part of the Our Planet Our Health programme.