More than 1.7 million Indians die every year due to diseases that can be attributed to dietary risk factors and weight levels, says the “State of India’s Environment 2022: In Figures”, the statistical compendium published every year by Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) and Down To Earth magazine. The e-report was released online yesterday to mark the approaching World Environment Day.

The report says that consumer food price index (CFPI) inflation has seen a 327% increase in the past year, while the consumer price index, which includes CFPI, has seen an 84% jump.

The report lists these diseases as respiratory ailments, diabetes, cancer, strokes, and coronary heart disease. By dietary composition, it refers to diets low in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and diets high in processed meat, red meat, and sugary drinks; the weight levels it talks about refer to whether an individual is underweight, or overweight, or obese.

The report points out that 42 percent of the world’s population cannot afford a healthy diet; the figure is a huge 71 percent for India. It suggests that the diet of an average Indian does not contain enough fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and whole grains.

Food systems and practices exert an impact on the environment. According to the report, while milk production is responsible for the lion’s share of greenhouse gas emissions and land use, grains account for the biggest share of freshwater use, nitrogen, and phosphorous applications.

The report also presents an analysis of food prices. It says that the consumer food price index (CFPI) inflation has seen a 327 percent increase in the past year, while the consumer price index (CPI) which includes CFPI has seen an 84 percent jump. Says Richard Mahapatra, managing editor, Down To Earth: “Food seems to be the biggest mover of CPI inflation. The current high levels of food inflation have been driven by the rising cost of production, surging international crop prices and extreme weather-related disruptions. Our analysis of CRISIL data shows that food prices have increased at a higher rate in rural areas than in urban areas in March-April 2022.”

Says the report: “Despite some progress, diets are not getting healthier. Additionally, they are making increasing demands on the environment, even as unacceptable levels of malnutrition persist in the country. The high human, environmental and economic costs of continuing our current trajectory are so significant that we will pay a far higher price if we fail to act. The global food system falls far short of achieving global goals for both health and the environment.”

Adds Mahapatra: “Data re-generates debates and discussions. The State of India’s Environment 2022: In Figures reiterates this every year. It brings to you the state of India’s environment, quantified. This year marks a milestone both for India and the planet. India is celebrating its 75th year of Independence and we have a promise of a ‘New India’ with quantified development goals to meet. This year also marks the 50th anniversary of the Stockholm conference, the UN’s first meeting on the human environment. This report tries to do justice to both: by making an assessment of whether the promised ‘New India’ will come to pass (in the case of the former). And by documenting and analysing (in the case of the latter) how the planet’s environment has been in the last 50 years.”