The Mediterranean diet, being recognised by the UNESCO as “the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity” is not only an integral part of the tradition and culture shared by many Mediterranean countries but it is also one of the most sustainable and healthy dietary patterns ,
It also presents significant opportunities to preserve biodiversity (local products) and improving health outcomes. The importance of healthy dietary patterns has been particularly evident during the recent COVID-19 outbreak to boost the immune system, decreasing the susceptibility to infections. reduction of national health expenditure, savings for consumers, valorisation of local companies and territories Adherence to the Mediterranean dietary pattern also has significant economic implications; among others, the reduction of national health expenditure, saving for consumers, and the valorisation of local companies and producers.
However, current data show a decline in adherence to the Mediterranean dietary pattern in northern as well as southern and eastern Mediterranean countries. If present trends persist, it is expected to have a growing incidence of non-communicable diseases (growing prevalence of overweight and obesity) and massive consequences on the quality of life and public health expenditure (WHO, 2015) social and economic impacts in the Mediterranean Region.
Drivers of consumption patterns and lifestyles are economic, technological, cultural, social and political. Shaping consumer food choices towards more sustainable healthy diets requires a coherent policy package that will take behaviours, economics and food environment issues into account.
As underlined by UNESCO, the Mediterranean way model goes beyond the simple concept of food, embracing different sustainable values: healthy and nutritional (as it is one of the healthiest eating regimes among those known)(Sofi et al., 2010; 2014), environmental (more limited impact on the environment compared to diets based on an excess of animal fats, respect for the principles of biodiversity, seasonality and frugality, reduction of waste production) (Serra-Majem et al., 2018) , quality and food safety (the quality of products and protection of food safety of consumers), social (food awareness, relationship with the territory, conviviality, identity, exchange among people of the Mediterranean area) (Cavaliere et al., 2018), economic (reduction of national health expenditure, savings for consumers, valorisation of local companies and territories). As a result, the concepts of Mediterranean way as an unifying reference paradigm for sustainable lifestyl
The present topic is in continuity with the one proposed in 2020 Calls. While the previous one, focused on the health aspects of the Mediterranean diet, based on its composition and effects on consumers., this one aims to enhance the adherence to the Mediterranean dietary pattern.
It focuses on increasing awareness and promotion of this healthy diet and sustainable lifestyle model across the Mediterranean region and in other parts of the world. Activities responding to this topic should analyse existing food systems to identify potential changes needed to encourage the consumption of diverse required foods and the eating behaviours consistent with the Mediterranean diet. Proposals should codify and valorise the components of the Mediterranean dietary patterns with the final goal to trigger mechanisms to attract more consumers and ensure greater recognition and competitiveness in markets of healthy Mediterranean food. This should be applied to a great variety of unprocessed or minimally processed foods present in the markets (domestic, regional, international), which are consistent with the Mediterranean dietary pattern, to counteract the mass consumption of unhealthy food. Proposals should propose new food products and related sustainable food habits, consistent with the Mediterranean diet, that meet consumers’ preferences and acceptability along with tailored business models and marketing strategies. Activities could also propose a new process able to trigger the consumption of components of the Mediterranean diet or a mix between product and process.
Food behaviour drivers should be assessed to foster increasing adherence to the Mediterranean diet, to define how to influence food demand, by raising citizens’ knowledge and awareness; as well as creating enabling environments for healthy and sustainable Mediterranean food choices. In this sense, activities should consider behaviour change initiatives to promote a healthy diet in Mediterranean countries among others, policy advise, communication strategies and awareness and education campaigns targeting in particular children, adolescents, and older adults, also by using attractive and tech-based aged adapted methodologies (e.g. game approaches). Scaling up of best practices already existing in the region, with continuous monitoring of their effectiveness, is encouraged.
Finally, proposals must monitor and report of the adherence to the Mediterranean Diet through the development of methodologies able to acquire data and objective indicators, distinguishing the quality of food intakes.
Identification of socio-economic and cultural barriers (including the food behaviour change) aiming to increase adherence to the Mediterranean diet, through hands-on approaches and experiments.
Identification and comparative analysis of local determinants of food choices (such as education, socio-economic, hedonistic, market dynamics) of different Mediterranean populations through harmonised and validated methods.
Foster new business models and marketing of new food products and promoting eating habits consistent with the Mediterranean diet, that meet consumers’ preferences and acceptability.
Assessment, monitoring and reporting of the adherence to the Mediterranean Diet through the development of methodologies that enable the acquisition of data and appropriate indicators.
A shift towards consumer-driven new product development that corresponds to the appreciations, preferences, (health) needs and affordability means of consumers in the Mediterranean countries and tourists as ambassadors of the Mediterranean Diet.
Improved nutrition and health thanks to a better diet.
Consumers’ empowerment (food information /awareness/ behavioural change).
Supporting information for Section 1 Call for Proposals, Topic 1.3.1
 Sustainable, Healthy diets are dietary pattern that promote all dimensions of individuals’ health and wellbeing; have low environmental pressure and impact; are accessible, affordable, safe and equitable; and are culturally acceptable (FAO, 2019). Dietary patterns can be defined as “the quantities, proportions, variety, or combination of different foods, drinks, and nutrients (when available) in diets, and the frequency with which they are habitually consumed” USDA. 2015. A Series of Systematic Reviews on the Relationship Between Dietary Patterns and Health Outcomes. [online] Arlington, VA. [cited 3 October 2019]
 IPCC 2019 Special Report on Climate Change and Land https://www.ipcc.ch/srccl/
 Optimal Nutritional Status for a Well-Functioning Immune System Is an Important Factor to Protect against Viral Infections. Philip C. Calder et al. Nutrients 2020, 12, 1181; doi:10.3390/nu12041181
 PRIMA AWP 2020 Topic 1.3.1-2020 (IA) Valorising the health benefits of the Traditional Mediterranean food products
For questions related to this call for proposals, please contact Mohamed Wageih: [email protected]
The Partnership for Research and Innovation in the Mediterranean Area will devise new R&I approaches to improve water availability and sustainable agriculture production in a region heavily distressed by climate change, urbanisation and population growth
The PRIMA programme is an Art.185 initiative supported and funded under Horizon 2020, the European Union’s Framework Programme for Research and Innovation.
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