While the admittedly limited number of epidemiological findings on the association between diet-related greenhouse gas emissions (GHGE) and diet quality are not always consistent, potential influence of bias in the estimation of diet-related GHGE caused by misreporting of energy intake (EI) has not been investigated. This cross-sectional study evaluated diet-related GHGE in the UK and their association with diet quality, taking account of EI under-reporting.
Dietary data used were from the National Diet and Nutrition Survey rolling programme 2008/2009-2013/2014, in which 4-day food diaries were collected from 3502 adults aged ≥19 years. Diet-related GHGE were estimated based on 133 food groups, using GHGE values from various secondary sources. Diet quality was assessed by the healthy diet indicator (HDI), Mediterranean diet score (MDS) and Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) score. EI misreporting was assessed as reported EI divided by estimated energy requirement (EI:EER).
Mean value of daily GHGE was 5.7 kg carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2eq), which is consistent with those reported from a number of national representative samples in other European countries. Mean EI:EER was 0.74. Assuming that all the dietary variables were misreported in proportion to the misreporting of EI, the mean value of the misreporting-adjusted diet-related GHGE was 8.2 kg CO2eq/d. In the entire population, after adjustment for potential confounders (i.e., age, sex, ethnicity, socioeconomic classification, smoking status and physical activity), diet-related GHGE were inversely associated with HDI and DASH score but not with MDS. However, with further adjustment for EI:EER, diet-related GHGE showed inverse associations with all three measures of diet quality. Similar associations were observed when only under-reporters (EI:EER < 0.70; n = 1578) were analysed. Conversely, in the analysis including only plausible reporters (EI:EER 0.70-1.43; n = 1895), diet-related GHGE showed inverse associations with all diet quality measures irrespective of adjustment.
With taking account of EI under-reporting, this study showed inverse associations between diet-related GHGE and diet quality not only in the entire sample but also in the separate analyses of plausible reporters and under-reporters, as well as potential underreporting of diet-related GHGE.