BERNA (SWITZERLAND) – The event “Positive Nutrition. Traditional diets as a model for a healthy lifestyle”, organized by the Italian Embassy in Bern and the Italian Trade Agency (ITA), was presented in Bern, with the aim to explore and promote healthy and sustainable eating habits, highlighting the limits of Nutriscore. We can follow a healthy and balanced diet without having to deprive ourselves of the foods we love, just keep an eye on portions and frequency of consumption. This is the fundamental message delivered by scientists and nutritionists who participated in the conference, underlining how in recent years too much attention has been paid to the negative elements of food, losing sight of the positive contribution that nutrition can make to health. The conference opened with a message from the Vice President of the Council and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Antonio Tajani, who underlined the goodness of the Italian approach to nutritional issues. “I thank the Italian Embassy in Bern for having promoted, together with ICE-Agenzia, a conference on a strategic topic for the Italian agri-food industry and for consumer health – states Tajani -. The valorisation and defense of this the wealth of practices and knowledge also comes from the promotion of a healthy lifestyle and a diet seen as a whole, rather than from an artificial classification of foods as healthy or unhealthy. Traffic light labeling systems are simplistic even before they are simple and which do not take into account, for example, the degree of processing of the products, the production method, the origin or the concept of portion, are misleading, with a negative influence on consumer purchasing behavior and such as to penalize local producers and traditional European products, pushing them out of the market and impoverishing the variety and quality of available products. Only with a scientific approach will it be possible to guarantee consumers correct information on the nutritional values ​​of their diet, while enhancing national traditions and the link between productions. and territories”. Fully convinced of the philosophy of “Positive Nutrition” Luca Piretta, Professor of Gastroenterology and Nutrition at the Campus Bio-Medico University of Rome: “In recent years we have witnessed a growing epidemic of obesity and related diseases. The reasons are to be attributed to changes in diet and lifestyle that have led people to move away from traditional diets, abandoning the Mediterranean diet which paradoxically over time has been recognized as the best dietary model. They wanted to demonize some categories of food in order to find a goat scapegoat responsible for the increase in the incidence of obesity, when in reality we should have reasoned in the opposite direction, i.e. understanding which foods are the best and the correct proportionality with which to consume them (Positive Nutrition). It would have been understood before that they do not exist prohibited foods but correct quantities, ways, times and proportions with which to consume the maximum variety of foods. The pyramid of the Mediterranean Diet quickly and effectively summarizes many concepts of correct nutrition that help us live healthily and prevent diseases”. The vision of Professor Andrea Poli, President of the Nutrition Foundation of Italy (NFI), who has instead placing the emphasis on correct information to the consumer. Comparing the front-of-package labeling systems NutrInform Battery and Nutriscore, Poli highlighted the critical issues of the French system: “The informational front-of-package nutritional labeling systems are the only ones that can allow for people with specific nutritional or metabolic needs to correctly identify the foods most suitable for them. Subjects with a slight increase in blood pressure, who must limit their intake of salt with food, find the information they need with the NutrInform Battery, but not with the interpretative FOPL systems. The situation is similar for subjects with mild hypercholesterolemia, who must limit their intake of saturated fats. Since the share of adults carrying metabolic risk factors, who therefore require a personalization of the diet, is probably around 50% of the general population, this difference between the various FOPLs is of great conceptual importance”. Paolo Colombani, publisher and co-founder of the Zurich-based Notabene Nutrition Competence Center considers Nutriscore misleading for consumers: “As part of a comprehensive project over ten years ago, the Federal Office of Public Health had the adoption of a suitable FOPL evaluated to Switzerland. The usefulness of FOPLs had been considered limited, and it had been highlighted that traffic light systems lead to making the wrong choice for some product categories. Nonetheless, since 2019 Switzerland has officially adopted Nutriscore as voluntary labelling. Even the questionable studies carried out on Swiss consumers showed at most a very limited benefit from Nutriscore and this is also why the largest retailer, Migros, announced in May that it will stop using it.” Two people also took part in the debate Swiss senators, Mauro Poggia and Benedikt Würth. Senator Poggia, member of the Geneva Citizens’ Movement (MCG), said he was skeptical about all the propaganda that aims to scare consumers about the intake of certain foods, and recalled Paracelsus. that “it is the dose that makes the poison”. Highlighting the importance of nutritional education, Poggia invited Swiss institutions to create the right environment to encourage healthy lifestyles: “Unfortunately, it is difficult to solve complex problems a simple solution is enough. To reduce the rates of obesity and chronic diseases linked to diet, it is necessary to act on people’s awareness, knowledge and information. It is completely useless to prohibit a food if a person has no idea what a healthy and well-balanced diet consists of. Therefore, we give value to our human capital: we educate children about healthy eating already in schools, we promote sport and physical activity, we ensure that communication on these issues is correct and transparent”. Senator Würth, member of The Center Alliance is the one who successfully presented a motion in both houses of Parliament aimed at eliminating “the problematic effects of Nutriscore”. balanced diet foreseen by the Swiss food pyramid, which must remain the main nutritional reference of the population: “The scores are in vogue but this leads to reductive and simplistic systems”, explained Würth, who underlined how the Nutriscore does not take into account “the additives , the degree of processing, sustainability or production method. And it doesn’t even take into account all the relevant aspects from a nutritional point of view, such as the protein value, the content of vitamins, saturated and unsaturated fatty acids”. The approval of the motion was fundamental, because it rekindled the media spotlight on deceptiveness of the French system. It is probably no coincidence that only a few weeks later the largest distribution chain (Migros) and the most important producer of milk and dairy products (Emmi) decided to no longer use the traffic light label Ambassador Gian Lorenzo Cornado was satisfied with the success of the conference and thanked the speakers for their important contribution to the debate on nutrition in Switzerland: “World Food Safety Day is celebrated on 7 June. I am pleased that through this Embassy it has been possible to deepen the link between good nutrition and correct information for the consumer”. In closing, Cornado hoped that on important issues such as nutrition and health protection, Italy and Switzerland can start a fruitful collaboration in the scope of the traditional channels of dialogue between the two countries – Photo Italcommunications – . sat/com 05-Jun-24 13:01