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Italy leader in healthy food

Italy should assume a leading international role in promoting healthy eating based on the country's traditional diet, a top Italian oncologist and former minister.

Umberto Veronesi said setting up a network of doctors and dieticians dedicated to traditional, healthy food would save lives at home and set an important example abroad.

Veronesi pointed out that in Italy alone, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer cost the country 40 billion euros each year. These three groups of diseases, together with chronic respiratory disorders, kill 35 million people globally each year, accounting for 60% of all fatalities, he said. But he said education about healthy eating based on traditional Mediterranean diets, starting from a young age, could help change attitudes.

Cereals, olive oil, certain fish such as anchovy and tuna, and a high fruit and vegetable intake, including tomatoes, broccoli and blackberries, are thought to be among its important features. Italy, together with Spain, Greece and Morocco, is lobbying the United Nations' culture organization to add the Mediterranean Diet to its World Heritage List.

UNESCO will decide on a formal, joint proposal by the end of the year. The UNESCO list is famous for its historic and cultural sites but it recently extended its register to include 'intangible heritage', such as endangered languages and vanishing traditions.

The Mediterranean diet is aiming for inclusion in this new category, which is so far home to music, dance and oral traditions from around the world.

by S. C.
05 september 2009, World News > Italy