Opportunities To Achieve Healthy, Sustainable Food Choices in China Through Behavior Change
China’s economic development has driven significant changes to diets in the country. In this report, WRI examines how ways of eating are changing in China and outlines a behavior science framework to promote healthier and more sustainable diets.
Over the past 30 years, diets in China have transitioned toward higher levels of salt, fat, sugar, and animal products. Through the Chinese Dietary Guidelines, the government of China hopes to change this by helping more people to eat healthier diets.
This report examines how diet trends are changing in China, compares the Chinese Dietary Guidelines to a diet that promotes both planetary and individual health, and offers a behavioral science framework to accelerate the number of people eating in line with the Chinese Dietary Guidelines. We find:
- Widespread adoption of the 2022 Chinese Dietary Guidelines could yield a “triple win” for China, improving food security, health, and reducing the nation’s diet-related environmental footprint.
- The Chinese population currently overconsumes livestock and poultry meat and cereals compared to the 2022 CDGs, and underconsumes aquatic products, eggs, dairy, fresh fruit, and legumes and nuts.
- Behavioral change interventions – focused on People, Product, Policy, Presentation, Promotion, and Placement – can open up new opportunities to promote adoption of the CDGs.
This research can be used by stakeholders across government, academia, civil society, philanthropy, and industry who want to advance diets in China that are healthier and more sustainable. It also provides an important evidence base upon which further research can be developed to identify the most effective ways of shifting Chinese diets to be low carbon.
Thumbnail image by Saranjeet Singh