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About this research project

The foods we eat have a critical impact on human health, planetary resources, and climate change. Major shifts are required in what we eat if we are to achieve healthy diets and sustainable food systems.

This research aims to identify an optimal diet that keeps New Zealand ( NZ ) within the safe operating space for greenhouse gas emissions whilst still meeting population dietary requirements at minimised cost. The effects of this healthy, sustainable diet, as well as policies to help New Zealanders move towards this diet, will be modelled to estimate their health effects, impact on ethnic health inequities, environmental impacts and costs. Consultation will take place to identify policies that are considered feasible and acceptable to policy makers and the public, especially Māori, in order to increase the chances of these policies being adopted.

This research will provide policymakers and practitioners with information on how best to improve population diets to maximise net health and environmental co-benefits and to decrease health inequities in New Zealand.

This project is funded by a Healthier Lives National Science Challenge grant and runs from 2020 to 2024.

Our people

Our research team is:



  • Reynolds, A. N., Mhurchu, C. N., Kok, Z. Y., & Cleghorn, C. (2023). The neglected potential of red and processed meat replacement with alternative protein sources: Simulation modelling and systematic review.  Eclinicalmedicine,  56.
  • Cleghorn, Christine, Nhung Nghiem, and Cliona Ni Mhurchu. "Assessing the health and environmental benefits of a New Zealand diet optimised for health and climate protection."  Sustainability 14.21 (2022): 13900.
  • McDowell, R. W., Herzig, A., van der Weerden, T. J., Cleghorn, C., & Kaye-Blake, W. (2022). Growing for good: producing a healthy, low greenhouse gas and water quality footprint diet in Aotearoa, New Zealand.  Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand, 1-25.

Related publications

  • Chambers T, Hales S, Shaw C, Baker M, Ball J, Cleghorn C, Wilson N (2021). Climate Change Commission report: the critical need to address the missing health co-benefits of reducing emissions. N Z Med J;134(1542):109-118.
  • Cleghorn C, Reynolds C. Chapter 18: Importance of Sustainable Food Environments. Transforming Food Environments. Published by Taylor & Francis Group. 2022.
  • Cleghorn C, Mulder I, Macmillan A, Mizdrak A, Drew J, Nghiem N, Blakely T, Ni Mhurchu C (2022). Can a greenhouse gas emissions tax on food also be healthy and equitable? A systematized review and modelling study from Aotearoa New Zealand. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 19, no. 8: 4421.


  • Cleghorn C, McKerchar C, Enright H, Kidd B. ‘Feeding the mauri - kai and food systems’ panel. Taiao. Tangata. Hauora. Advancing Planetary Health, Climate Health and Sustainable Healthcare in Aotearoa Conference. Wellington. 5-6 July 2023.
  • Reynolds, A., Ni Mhurchu, C., & Cleghorn, C. (2023). The neglected potential of red and processed meat replacement: Simulation modelling and systematic review. Proceedings of the Nutrition Society, 82(OCE2), E68. doi:10.1017/S0029665123000770
  • Cleghorn C. Healthy Sustainable Diets. Nutrition Society Conference (online), 2 December 2021.
  • Cleghorn C (with Nghiem N, Ni Mhurchu C). New Zealand diet optimised for health, cost and climate protection. Sustainable Healthcare and Climate Health Aotearoa conference. Wellington. 22 June 2021.
  • Cleghorn C. Food policy changes: Introducing healthy food policies and their associated environmental and health benefits. Public talk hosted by Evidence Based Eating: The Whole Food Solution. Saving Health. Saving the planet. Wellington, 30 October 2021.


Contact us

If you have further questions about the project, please contact:

Dr Cristina Cleghorn

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