Food experts have come up with a new method to assess and rank various foods according to their impact on human and planetary health, compiling their findings in the new "Double Health and Climate Pyramid" design published on Wednesday by the Barilla Foundation – the global advocacy arm of the famed pasta maker – and University of Naples Federico II.
Under the patronage of the Italian National Commission for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the Double Pyramid is a simple tool which can guide people towards a diet which both reduces the risk of disease and limits climate impact, two of the largest global challenges being tackled today, all without limiting red meat and dairy intake.
The Double Pyramid suggests maintaining a healthy and sustainable diet based around a large amount of plant-based foods, while not entirely eliminating meat or dairy consumption. It recommends the inclusion of a variety of protein sources such as legumes, nuts, fish, and poultry, and allows for consumers to continue eating cakes and other pastries, while indicating the appropriate frequency and portion size required to meet health and sustainability targets.
In a first, the Double Pyramid has been adapted for seven different regions of the world, taking the local culture and regional foods of each region into account.
"The Double Pyramid aims to communicate in a simple and direct way the features of a balanced, healthy, and sustainable diet by advising on the appropriate frequency of consumption for all food groups,” Barilla's head of research Dr. Marta Antonelli said in a statement.
“Compared to other tools, the Double Pyramid has the advantage of taking into consideration all eating occasions, such as snacks, street food or lunches, and also going beyond a single meal by giving a daily and weekly perspective on frequencies of food consumption.”
Current research has shown that by the year 2030, diet-related costs due to mortality and non-communicable diseases will exceed $1.3 trillion per year, according to the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, with the cost of global greenhouse emissions estimated to reach $1.7 trillion in the same timeframe.
These projections, combined with the 690 million people across the globe who lack sufficient food, and an additional 83 to 132 million facing malnourishment due to the COVID-19 pandemic, has proven to Prof. Gabriele Riccardi, a professor of Endocrinology and Metabolic Diseases at University of Naples Federico II, that "sustainably produced, high-quality nutrient-dense foods must be accessible and affordable for all."
The report presents 10 recommendations under the guidelines of the Double Pyramid, including greener food procurement policies, educational initiatives for farmers, producers and the public, and subsidies for nutritional and sustainable foods.