OBJECTIVE To evaluate the greenhouse gas emission (GHGE) of diets in Dutch girls, boys, women and men and to explore associations with diet composition. DESIGN Descriptive analyses for the total population as well as stratified for gender, age and dietary environmental load. SETTING The Netherlands. SUBJECTS Dutch children and adults aged 7-69 years (n 3818). RESULTS The GHGE of daily diets was on average 3·2 kg CO2-equivalents (CO2e) for girls, 3·6 kg CO2e for boys, 3·7 kg CO2e for women and 4·8 kg CO2e for men. Meat and cheese contributed about 40 % and drinks (including milk and alcoholic drinks) 20 % to daily GHGE. Considerable differences in environmental loads of diets existed within age and gender groups. Persons with higher-GHGE diets consumed more (in quantity of foods and especially drinks) than their counterparts of a similar sex and age with low-GHGE diets. Major differences between high- and low-GHGE diets were in meat, cheese and dairy consumption as well as in soft drinks (girls, boys and women) and alcoholic drinks (men). Of those, differences in meat consumption determined the differences in GHGE most. Diets with higher GHGE were associated with higher saturated fat intake and lower fibre intake CONCLUSIONS GHGE of daily diets in the Netherlands is between 3 and 5 kg CO2e, with considerable differences between individuals. Meat, dairy and drinks contribute most to GHGE. The insights of the study may be used in developing (age- and gender-specific) food-based dietary guidelines that take into account both health and sustainability aspects.