Mediterranean Diet against malnutrition: an event at FAO

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ROME, NOVEMBER 27- Unhealthy diets have been proved to contribute to malnutrition in all its forms -one of the biggest challenges of the 21st century- and are thereby a catalyst for the emergence of diseases. This is the core concern of today’s event at FAO, entitled ‘Being and Well Being- Traditional healthy diets from the Mediterranean and beyond’. The event, the second of its kind, was organized under the umbrella of the ‘Mediterranean Diet’s Principles for Agenda 2030’ initiative, established by the Permanent Delegation of Italy at the United Nations Organizations in Rome, together with the UN Agency for nutrition. Qu Dongyu, Director-General of FAO, spoke of the organization’s meaningful collaboration with the Italian government, and reminded the audience that “Next year will mark 10 years since UNESCO’s declaration of the Mediterranean Diet as a cultural patrimony”.

“Promoting and protecting healthy diets and making them available, accessible and affordable is critical for having a fulfilled and happy life,” explained Qu Dongyu in his opening remarks. Attending the event were also Michele Baiano, Deputy Secretary General of the Foreign Affairs Ministry and Giuseppe Ruocco, Secretary General of the Ministry of Health, together with experts and academics from the world of nutrition and health.

Building on September’s seminar on the cultural dimension of food, today’s event tackled the theme of “the nutritional aspects of the Mediterranean diet and other traditional diets in the world”. According to Qu, “traditional and indigenous diets contain the wisdom of our ancestors and the cultural essence of generations. They are healthy diets because we inherited them, and will now be passing them on to future generations”.

“Science proves that the Mediterranean diet is an exceptional model of alimentation. This treasure must be safeguarded, and we want to do so alongside FAO”, said Baiano, underlining Italy’s firm belief in the initiative: “Promoting knowledge of the values and principles that are at the roots of our food culture is our duty for future generations because this knowledge touches multiple aspects of sustainability, not only in regards to food in a strict sense, but also in regards to the whole food chain.”

Ruocco took the event as an opportunity to call upon all Fao member states to participate in an action network which intends to focus on healthy and sustainable diets, “beginning with the Mediterranean diet but also including all traditional diets”. This action network, to be organized in the framework of the UN Decade of Action on nutrition 2016-2025, would “aim at promoting vigorous action within a multidisciplinary approach so to end hunger and malnutrition in all its forms”. Through this network, “Italy is committed to launching actions in the field of nutrition, that are also exportable to other areas, including those under development”. (SB@OnuItalia)