A food label to promote the Mediterranean diet

A food label to promote the Mediterranean diet

The Mediterranean diet is one of the best-known diets in the world, known as a symbol of health and well-being . Precisely this status of excellence has always led it to be strongly imitated and taken as the basis of other diets, not exactly faithful to the original.

To clarify things, avoid misunderstandings as much as possible and help people follow it , a group of experts proposed the establishment of a new ad hoc food label called the Mediterranean Index.

What is the Mediterranean Index

Also abbreviated with the term Med Index , the Mediterranean Index is a new labeling that would serve to promote the Mediterranean diet but not only.

It was conceived by a research team made up of experts from SIMA, the Italian Society of Environmental Medicine, and the University of Bari. In an interview with the Journal of Functional Food , the promoters underlined how their intent is to make it a able to stimulate as many people as possible to eat healthy and practice regular physical activity consistent with the energy intake of their meals . The label would also have a particular focus on environmental sustainability and would also aim to push producers to make food productshealthier and more sustainable.

The importance of proper nutrition

What you eat significantly determines everyone’s level of health and well-being, which is why promoting a correct way of eating is essential.

One of the ways to do this is to learn to read the labels of the foods you buy at the supermarket, which however are often not easy to decipher.

It is sometimes difficult to understand if what you are about to put in your cart is a truly healthy product and even more if it respects the environment or has been made in a sustainable way .

The creators of the project to develop the new labeling started precisely from these critical issues and from the desire to make the Mediterranean diet truly usable for everyone, while promoting physical activity at the same time.

Ornish diet : what it is and benefits.

How the project was born

After a series of studies, the team came to define the characteristics of the Mediterranean Index, making it a complete label capable of making people immediately understand, through clear colours, descriptions and symbols, how to classify products.

In the conception phase , 27 criteria were defined on which to base it, which together satisfy the main criteria of sustainability, namely nutritional, environmental and social ones.

The Med Index is conceived as a complete label applicable directly by food producers without difficulty and extremely clear to read. Not being based on complicated algorithms but on measurable criteria, in addition to representing an aid for the final consumer, it can be a trump card for those who place a product labeled in this way on the market, which, being included in the perfect Mediterranean diet, would acquire prestige and a better positioning.

How the Mediterranean Index is made

Concretely, what the creators of this new label are proposing is the application of pyramid-shaped labeling on the front of food products , which recalls the graphic model usually used to describe the Mediterranean diet.

The number of standard servings should be indicated at the top of the label , using the graphic representation of a person, instead of the classic grams, which are considered more difficult to understand.

By standard portion in this case we mean the definition found in the IV revision of the Dietary Reference Values ​​of Nutrients and Energy for the Italian population (LARN), which speaks of a quantity of food, recognized as a reference unit in the nutritional sector, of reasonable size.

In the central part of the Mediterranean Index the caloric intake is specified , also in this case not through standard indicators but expressed as the intensity of the recommended physical activity in order to achieve the balance between ingested and expended calories . No more numbers then, but behavioral indications aimed at all-round well-being.

The intensity of physical activity is not expressed in absolute or percentage values ​​but classified into three levels: low, which includes, for example, slow walking; medium or more vigorous walking, moderate cycling or another very light effort; and high as jogging or other exercises such as push ups , squats or sit ups . The reason for this choice is to avoid creating discomfort in the reader as much as possible.

Finally, the base of the pyramid is where consumers will be able to read the three sustainability criteria in line with the objectives of the Green Deal.

Three smileys corresponding to environmental, nutritional and social criteria will be colored yellow in the case of a moderately positive judgement, green positive and blue for excellence.

As the experts specify, the assignment of colors is based on criteria based on certifiable processes often already implemented by companies and presented in an unclear way on current labels which, if converted to this new model, would therefore make a significant step forward under various points of view.

Now the ball passes to the European Commission, which by 2024 will examine a new sustainable labeling framework and decide whether to promote the introduction of the Mediterranean Index.



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