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Sustainability and Mediterranean diets – IUNS and FENS to collaborate on joint international Task Force

The CIHEAM 3rd World Conference on revitalization of Mediterranean Diet was held on 28 –30 September 2022 in Bari, Italy. During the conference, Professor Dr Marcela Gonzalez-Gross, Professor Furio Brighenti and Professor Jacques Delarue participated on behalf of the Task Force on Mediterranean Networking of FENSheld a successful session titled ” Assessing and promoting the adherence of the Mediterranean Diet” with the Task Force on Sustainable Diets (chair: Professor Barbara Burlingame). The aim of this session was to develop the methodology permitting obtaining a single index for adherence to MedDiet setting the path for creating, evaluating and implementing a common frame for a new Mediterranean Dietary pattern for the 21st century.

 This session, which was held with the presence of 25 participants and 5 speakers, focused on addressing the health and nutrition challenges associated with adherence, and lack thereof, to the Mediterranean Diet. To propose actions, framed within the context of the Right to Food and the six principles of food security, they reached 11 outputs.

The outcome list is as follows:

  1. Acknowledgement of the difficulties and limits of using “health-derived scores” to describe the four benefits of an ideal dietary pattern (low environmental impact, positive economic return for local communities, high socio-cultural value, major health and nutritional effect).
  2. Currently, there are at least 22 different MD scores for analyzing adherence to Med Diet and deriving measures of effect on health.
  3. There are differences in country-specific food habits that may affect the scores, and (often) limits in methodology. 
  4. There is a consensus that some common metric can be useful for assessment and management at both population and individual level. However, developing a “unified” metric is a methodological challenge.
  5. First step is to agree on the need to move forward. Then set consensus on methodology. 
  6. Importance of what to measure (something that can be measured) and how it should be measured.
  7. Ideally, we should move towards a methodology with a more holistic approach, i.e., able to include sustainable (environmentally and economically), local Mediterranean diets. 
  8. Continue to promote adherence to the Mediterranean Diet through multisectoral programmes and campaigns, while concurrently developing the consensus methodology.
  9. Develop a set of guidelines for different sectors and professional groups, modelled on successful codes of conduct and/or voluntary guidelines, to encourage adherence.
  10. The way of moving forward is creating a Task Force including FENS and IUNS, but also other potential actors.
  11. role of this Task Force is setting the path for creating, evaluating and implementing a common frame for a new Mediterranean Dietary pattern for the 21st century.

Professor Jacques Delarue announced that a joint FENS-IUNS symposium will be held during FENS 2023 in Belgrade, Serbia, with the aim of presenting the final conclusions during IUNS-ICN Paris in 2025.