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True Cost Accounting (TCA)

02 Aug. 2023

The True Price of External Health Effects from Food Consumption (2023)

Oebel B.

Michalke A.

Gaugler T.

Stein L.

Seidel F.

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Although global food consumption costs more in terms of impact on human life than money is spent on it, health costs have not been consistently quantified or included in food prices to date. In this paper, a method to determine the external health costs of nutrition and dietetics is developed by employing the cost-of-illness (COI) and true cost accounting (TCA) approaches. This is done exemplarily for the reference country Germany. The results show that 601.50 € per capita and 50.38 billion € in total external health costs are incurred annually due to nutrition. Overall, most costs are accrued through excessive meat consumption (32.56% of costs), deficient whole grain intake (15.42% of costs), and insufficient uptake of legumes (10.19% of costs). Comparing the external health costs with the external environmental costs in Germany, it can be seen that of the total annual costs of around 153.86 billion €, 67.26% originate from environmental impacts and 32.74% from impacts on human life. In order to achieve the 17 Sustainable Development Goals and to increase family as well as public health, there is a need to internalise these external costs into actual food prices.