Food-based dietary guidelines

Food-based dietary guidelines - Italy

Official name

Dietary Guidelines for Healthy Eating– Revision 2018 (Italian: Linee Guida per una sana alimentazione - Revisione 2018)

Publication year

Italy published its first set of dietary guidelines in 1986, and they have been regularly updated since then. The most recent revision, the fourth edition, was published in 2019.

Process and stakeholders

Development and periodic revision of the Italian Dietary Guidelines is an institutional task of CREA Food and Nutrition Research Centre (formerly National Institute of Nutrition) a governmental body that led the process as defined in its founding law (Law n.258 / 63; Law n.70 / 75; Legislative Decree 454/99). The Italian Dietary Guidelines are based on the Italian recommended dietary allowances (RDAs) published in 2014 (LARN, Livelli di Assunzione di Riferimento di Energia e Nutrienti per la popolazione italiana, IV Revisione).

It is a consensus document accepted and endorsed by a large scientific and political community. A National Task Force was established including experts from academia, other research institutes, scientific societies and consumers associations. In addition, the document has been accepted across governmental departments, with the inclusion of representatives from Ministry of Agriculture, Health, Environment and Education.

The National Task Force was responsible for structuring the scientific dossier representing the cultural basis for the development of the Guidelines, that as policy document, is articulated and addressed to large audience. The statement of the policy document is then translated into a synthetic leaflet, graphically appealing, to wider dissemination.

Intended audience

The guidelines are addressed to the general public. Recommendations cover all age groups from infants to the elderly, including physiological conditions such as pregnancy and lactation. There is also a focus on special requirements for people who practice sports, as well as on providing recommendations for people at increased risk of obesity and most common non-communicable chronic diseases (Cardiovascular diseases, cancers, diabetes).

The Guidelines are also intended to be used by health professionals who deal with nutrition, the private sector and journalists (generalist and scientific). The main messages are intended to be the basis for school nutrition education programs.

Food guide

The graphical representation of the guidelines (as well as other communication materials) will be developed in 2019-2020.

Messages

The 13 directives have been divided into four blocks. The first is related to balance (1). The second is dedicated to foods for which consumption needs to be increased, such as fruits and vegetables (2-4). The third concerns critical foods in the current diet and for which consumption should be reduced, such as fat, salt, sugar and alcohol (5-8). And the last block is dedicated to "How to" ensure a varied, safe, healthy and sustainable diet (9-13).

The 13 directives are:

  1. Keep your weight under control and always be active
  2. Eat more fruits and vegetables
  3. Eat whole grain and legumes
  4. Drink abundant water every day
  5. Fats: select which ones and limit the quantity
  6. Sugar, sweets and sugar sweetened beverages: less is better
  7. Salt: less is better (but iodised)
  8. Alcoholic beverages: the least possible
  9. Enjoy a variety of food choices
  10. Follow special recommendations for target groups
  11. Be careful of dieting and misuse of dietary supplements
  12. Food safety depends also on you
  13. Select a sustainable diet

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