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Americans Believe Climate Change Will Impact the Food Ecosystem

A new survey commissioned by Research!America and the American Heart Association found that roughly half of Americans believe climate change will result in higher food costs, lower water quality, and an impact on food availability. The finding was part of a large, nationally representative survey conducted in late May, early June that captured Americans’ view on food, diet, health, and nutrition. 

The survey asked respondents to gauge the impact climate change would have on the food and water supply.  Impact on the cost of food (50% expect a great impact) was the biggest shared concern followed closely by water quality (46%), food availability (40%), and nutrient quality (33%). 

Food Cost  

77% of Americans surveyed expect climate change to have a great deal (50%) or moderate amount (27%) of impact on the cost of food. 

Water Quality  

73% of Americans surveyed expect an impact on water quality as well. 46% report expecting a great deal of impact and 27% report a moderate expected impact. 

Food Availability 

7 in 10 Americans surveyed were concerned that climate change would significantly impact food availability: 40% reported that they expected climate change to have a great deal of impact and 30% reported they expected it to have a moderate impact.  

Nutrient Quality  

64% of Americans surveyed expect climate change to impact the nutrient quality of their food with 33% reporting they expect a great deal of impact and 31% reporting moderate impact.   

Impact on Health 

Perceptions of and concerns about climate change among Americans vary widely as shown in this and previous surveys commissioned by Research!America. Questions about climate change and its impact on health have been included in surveys for many years.  

Interestingly, past research from Research!America has indicated that, while Americans do see climate change as a threat, they may not consistently perceive the issue as affecting them or those close to them. Trends in concern have also wavered over time suggesting that, in general, concern about climate change’s impact on health has declined slightly. The number of individuals that feel climate change is causing a great deal or moderate amount of harm to personal health has dropped from 66% to 51% since 2020. The number of individuals concerned about American health has also dropped from 67% in 2020 to 51% in 2023. 

Though only 51% of American say that climate change is impacting their health, a much larger share are concerned about its impact on food cost, water quality, food availability, and nutritional quality, according to the surveys. While further research is needed to flesh out these distinctions, survey data makes it clear that perceptions of climate impact are not uniform.  

Check out our full survey findings for the 2024 Food and Nutrition Survey. View our survey database to see previous data on climate change and numerous other public health topics.