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PUCP researchers publish a study in the Science of the Total Environment journal together with universities and institutions from Spain

The stress and boredom generated by the COVID-19 lockdown on people, as well as the unplanned massive purchases, caused a negative impact on the nutritional quality of food eaten in Spain. These are some conclusions reached by the article published by the professors of the Civil Engineering Section and researchers of the group Pelcan, Ramzy Kahhat and Ian Vázquez, in the Science of the Total Environment journal, in cooperation with peers of the University of Cantabria, Pompeu Fabra University and EnergyLab Technology Centre.

Autor: Fiorella Palmieri
PUCP researchers publish a study in the Science of the Total Environment journal together with universities and institutions from Spain

Ian Vázquez and Ramzy Kahhat are professors of our Department of Engineering, Civil Engineering Section and researchers of the Life Cycle and Industrial Ecology Peruvian Network Group (Pelcan).

Which are the effects of COVID-19 on food consumption and waste during quarantine? To answer this question, Doctor Ramzy Kahhat and Doctor Ian Vázquez Rowe, professors of the PUCP Department of Engineering, together with a team of international researchers conducted the study entitled Food waste management during the COVID-19 outbreak: a holistic climate, economic and nutritional approach”, published at the end of June in the Science of the Total Environment journal.

Quarantine effects

“The study analyzed the quarantine effects on the loss and waste of food in the Spanish residential sector. Among the main conclusions, now we know that during the quarantine in Spain the loss and waste of food in homes increased 12%, which also included an increase in carbon emissions”, said Doctor Ramzy Kahhat.

Now we know that during the quarantine in Spain the loss and waste of food in homes increased 12%, which also included an increase in carbon emissions».

Doctor Ramzy Kahhat

Professor of the Department of Engineering

The study also revealed that the Spanish population ate poor quality food during lockdown. “It is important to highlight that isolation produced a decrease in the nutritional contents of eaten food in association with a greater consumption of candies, snacks and ready-to-drink beverages, as well as an increase in economic losses that are related to the increase of food waste”, added Professor Kahhat.

For Doctor Ian Vázquez, the stress and boredom of people in quarantine are factors related to bad nutritional decisions as revealed by the study. “It may also be that certain foods of the day were prepared in the worksites, schools, and that the family members were not aware of the nutritional disruptions and deficits during the quarantine weeks. Buying patterns were also influenced by unplanned massive purchases. Maybe this derived from a greater quantity of low nutritional quality products available at the storerooms of the houses”, he explained.

For us, this study is very important. First, its link to COVID-19 gives us great visibility and allows us to strengthen the role of Pelcan group regarding the research of environmental profiles of diets in the Latin-American context ».

Doctor Ian Vázquez

Director of Pelcan group

Research methodology

In Spain, the population remained under lockdown for around six weeks, between March and April. From an environmental, economic and social perspective, the research analyzed data gathered by different entities, among them, the Ministry of Agriculture, Fishing and Food of Spain, regarding the consumption and waste of food at this stage.

“Therefore, this is a public information revision work, apart from a study based on research from some coauthors. This project used a holistic methodology, e.g. analysis of the life cycle. This allows to obtain a complete outlook of the environmental impacts during the production of a good or service, from the extraction of raw materials, manufacturing or end of life”, said Doctor Kahhat, who showed to be satisfied with the results of this collaborative work, made in its entirety remotely through G Suite platform.

Our researchers, members of the Life Cycle and Industrial Ecology Peruvian Network Group (Pelcan), participated in the conceptualization, supervision, review and editing of the article, made jointly with experts of the Development of Chemical Processes and Pollutant Control (DePRO) group of the University of Cantabria, Unesco Chair of Life Cycle and Climate Change of the Graduate School of International Trade of Pompeu Fabra University, and EnergyLab Technology Centre.

“This is one of the most prestigious Q1 journals around the world that covers transversal environmental sustainability topics. For us, this study is very important. First, its link to COVID-19 gives us great visibility and allows us to strengthen the role of Pelcan group regarding the research of environmental profiles of diets in the Latin-American context», said Doctor Vázquez, Director of Pelcan.

This joint research was led by Doctor Rubén Aldaco García, researcher that is responsible for the DePRO group of University of Cantabria, who, in a recent interview with PuntoEdu, provided more details about this project in which our researchers participated.

Significance and projection

In Peru, conducting a research project similar to the one conducted in Spain «is of utmost importance for the public and health policy of the country because it would enable to understand how it influences on nutritional, environmental, economic or derivative waste management aspects”, considers Doctor Vázquez Rowe. He, together with Doctor Kahhat, continue to work on achieving to promote this type of study in Peru in the future.

Check the complete article with a click on the graphic overview:

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