The amounts of animal-sourced foods required to achieve a least-cost nutritious diet depend on the food prices prevalent in each country. Using linear programming, we determine least-cost dietary patterns in the United States and the constituent amounts of animal-sourced foods. We considered local foods and prices from 2009–2010, and the average energy and nutrient requirements of adults. Nutrient-adequate food patterns were estimated at US$1.98 per day and included animal and plant products. Limiting nutrients were α-linolenic acid, potassium, choline, and vitamins C, D, E and K. The prices of animal-based foods had to be increased by 2–11.5 times to be excluded from the modelled food pattern, with the least cost of a plant-only diet at US$3.61. Given relative food prices in the United States, we show that animal-based foods are needed to secure adequate nutrition at the lowest cost, underscoring the role of price and market mechanisms in the choice of nutrient-adequate, sustainable diets.
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All data used and generated during the current study are available from an online resource (https://gitlab.com/thetasolutionsllc/naturefood-19100372).
The computer code required to reproduce the findings of this study is available from an online resource (https://gitlab.com/thetasolutionsllc/naturefood-19100372).
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The work reported was supported in part through funds from the National Dairy Council and Global Dairy Platform.
The authors declare no competing interests.
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Chungchunlam, S.M.S., Moughan, P.J., Garrick, D.P. et al. Animal-sourced foods are required for minimum-cost nutritionally adequate food patterns for the United States. Nat Food 1, 376–381 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s43016-020-0096-8
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