Healthy Food is Good for the Environment, Finds Major Think Tank Study

Oct 12, 2010, 01:58 ET from Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition

BRUSSELS, October 12, 2010 /PRNewswire/ -- A healthy diet also benefits the environment, according to a scientific study presented in Brussels today by the Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition (BCFN).

The study 'Double Pyramid: Healthy Food for people, sustainable food for the planet' indicates that foods with higher recommended consumption levels are also those with lower environmental impact. Contrarily, those foods with lower recommended consumption levels are also those with higher environmental impact.

The 'Double Pyramid' model combines the well-known food pyramid with the environmental pyramid, based on an estimation of the environmental impact of each foodstuff in terms of generation of greenhouse gases (Carbon Footprint), consumption of water resources (Water Footprint) and use of territory (Ecological Footprint).

The study was presented during an open debate at the European Parliament, organised by the Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition (BCFN) and hosted by Paolo De Castro, Member of the European Parliament (Socialists & Democrats, Italy). A large number of participants from the institutions, trade associations, businesses and civil society gathered to discuss the topic of 'Healthy Food, Healthy Planet'.

"While we cannot stop the continuing evolution of the planet, we have a moral duty to suggest directions and make proposals so that we can interact responsibly with it," said Guido Barilla - Chairman of Barilla Group presenting the Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition.

MEP Paolo de Castro explained the importance of the study: "The issue of food supply, fuelled in recent years by the exponential growth in demand, particularly in some areas of the world, is leading us onto dangerous ground. Food is destined to become an insufficient and costly resource. Today's challenge is to increase productivity, with fewer resources and less pollution."

Commenting on the economic and social implications of food and nutrition, Mario Monti, Economist and member of the BCFN Advisory Board, said: "Issues related to food and nutrition take on increasing importance in terms of their impact on the economy and society. We hope that our proposals and recommendations are taken into account by policy makers and that the BCFN becomes a privileged partner of public institutions".

MEPs Renate Sommer (European People's Party, Germany) and Christel Schaldemose (Socialists & Democrats, Denmark), European Commission Director General Paola Testori Coggi (Directorate General for Health and Consumers) and Sue Davies, Chief Policy Advisor at consumer organisation Which?, exchanged views on how to promote healthy lifestyles, following an introduction by Gabriele Riccardi, Professor of Endocrinology and Metabolic Diseases at the University of Naples and member of the BCFN Advisory Board.

"We have updated the Mediterranean dietary pattern, making it more suitable for modern lifestyles. In this perspective, the BCFN believes that the role of industry, which may offer easy to use products in line with relevant nutritional guidelines, is crucial", Riccardi said.

"The BCFN Double Pyramid is a significant achievement because it demonstrates the coincidence, in one model, of two different but equally important goals: health and environmental protection. In other words, by making nutrition choices that are good for our health, we also can help reduce the environmental impacts of food", said Barbara Buchner, director of the Climate Policy Initiative in Venice and member of the BCFN Advisory Board.

She was joined on the panel by MEP Mairead McGuinness (European People's Party, Ireland), European Commission Director General Karl Falkenberg (Directorate General for the Environment) and Mark Driscoll, Head of Sustainable Consumption Policy and Head of WWF's One Planet Food programme.

Antonio Tajani, Vice-President of the European Commission, responsible for Industry and Entrepreneurship, concluded the debate by giving a strong message of broad support for a comprehensive EU food and environmental policy, highlighting its potential contribution to the success of the EU 2020 Strategy.

Vice President Tajani added: "In a few weeks, the first meeting of the High Level Forum on the Food Supply Chain will held in Brussels under my chairmanship. We will discuss with fellow Commissioners, Ministers, MEPs and stakeholders the criticalities of the food chain. I am strongly convinced that a well-functioning food supply chain will ensure that the European agrofood sector is more competitive, innovative as well as sustainable".

Note to Editors

The Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition is a multidisciplinary think tank focusing on issues of food and nutrition and their relations to economics, medicine, diet, sociology and the environment. The work of the Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition is backed by an authoritative Advisory Board composed of Barbara Buchner, Director of the Climate Policy Initiative in Venice, Jean-Paul Fitoussi and Mario Monti, economists, Gabriele Riccardi, endocrinologist, Camillo Ricordi, surgeon and scientist, Claude Fischler and Joseph Sassoon, sociologists, and Umberto Veronesi, oncologist.

You may watch the event at

SOURCE Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition