A comparative study on the dietary ecological footprint in contemporary China

Bingtao Su, Chao Zhang*, Pim Martens, Xianqiang Cao

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Food consumption is increasingly impacting environmental sustainability. Building on the latest data of China Statistical Yearbook 2015-2020, this study quantified the dietary ecological footprint per capita (EFP), including animal-based and plant-based EFP, across seven provinces (representing seven regions) and between urban and rural areas of China. We further analyzed the possible correlated factors with the EFP and the strength of these correlations. The results showed that the EFP in southern areas was generally higher than that in northern areas, and the EFP in urban areas was higher than that in rural areas. The EFP was significantly correlated with per capita disposable income (PCDI), food consumption (FC) quantity, urban/rural status, southern/northern areas, and provinces. Moreover, we found geographical locations (i.e., southern/northern areas and provinces) contributed more to the total and animal-based EFP than economic conditions (i.e., urban/rural status and PCDI). Although pork price dramatically influenced the dietary patterns, it did not affect the total or animal-based EFP. These findings provide novel insights for understanding the mechanisms of the relationship between food consumption and environmental sustainability in China. The conclusions are helpful in predicting the future environmental impacts of diets in other countries with similar national conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number158289
Number of pages10
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Issue numberPt 2
Early online date26 Aug 2022
Publication statusPublished - 10 Dec 2022


  • ecological footprint
  • food consumption
  • environmental impacts
  • southern/northern areas
  • China


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