Double pyramid for children

Eating habits which do not promote harmonious growth are widespread among children between 6 and 10 years of age, habits which predispose them to putting on weight. In fact, it has been observed that only 1% of children have eating habits in line with what is recommended by a proper nutritional pyramid; the daily calorie intake seen in the majority of school-aged children is not only higher than they require, but results mainly from the consumption of fats and sugars (above all in children who have a tendency to be obese), to the detriment of fruit and vegetables.
BCFN Foundation - Double Pyramid for children
The BCFN Foundation - Sustainable food for children
Upon conclusion of its detailed work on the issues of nutrition and child growth, BCFN Foundations produced a synthesis of macro-guidelines to be followed for the adoption of a diet and a lifestyle that encourage the healthy development of children and adolescents. As with adults, the diet of young children and adolescents should mainly be based on foods of plant origin, particularly the different cereals, above all whole grains, which are extremely important due to their fibre content and protective qualities, and fruits and vegetables. Gradually moving up we find legumes, dairy and its by-products, eggs (preferably in low-fat recipes), meat and fish, until we reach the products with high fat and sugar content, which should be consumed in lower quantities and less frequently. The required intake of unsaturated fats should be met through eating fish and dried fruit, using extra virgin olive oil for condiments.

Double Pyramid for Adults

Through the Double Pyramid model, BCFN Foundations hopes to demonstrate that the adoption of a dietary model in line with the recommendations set out by nutritionists, as with those of the Mediterranean diet, can reconcile the health of a person with the health of the environment, without having any negative impact on the economy.

Starting from the base and moving upwards to the top, there are fruits and vegetables, which have a lower caloric content and supply the body with water, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and fibre. Moving upwards, we find cereals and their derivatives such as bread and pasta, potatoes, and legumes. Pasta is a foodstuff rich in starch, with a moderate amount of protein and an insignificant lipid content.

BCFN Foundation - Double Pyramid for adults
The BCFN Foundation - Sustainable food for adults
Like all grains, rice has a high starch content, low protein content and even lower fat content; it also contains small amounts of B group vitamins and minerals. Potatoes are rich in starch and carbohydrates, have a very low fat and protein content and represent one of the most important sources of potassium and phosphorous. Bread is a basic foodstuff since it provides the body with the required amount of carbohydrates. Lastly, legumes are plant foods with a higher protein and high fibre content; in addition to providing high quality proteins, they are rich in essential amino acids and are easily digested - and a good source of vitamin B (especially B1, niacin and B12), and minerals such as iron, calcium and zinc, and are an alternative to meat consumption.

On the next level up on the Pyramid, we find extra virgin olive oil consisting of triglycerides (rich in monounsaturated fatty acids), essential fatty acids and vitamin E, and polyphenols and phytosterols (which have a protective effect on the human body). Moving higher still, we find milk and yoghurt.

Milk contains substantial quantities of vitamins A, B1, B2 and B12 and pantothenic acid. Milk is also the main source of calcium in the human diet. Like milk, yoghurt has high nutritional value, but can be easier to digest for individuals who are lactose intolerant, due to the presence of bacterial lactase.

At the top of the pyramid we find a large group of different products such as cheese, lean meats, fish, eggs and biscuits. Cheese contains proteins and fats, while having almost no carbohydrates. Particularly significant is the high bioavailability of its calcium content which makes an important contribution to the meeting the needs of the human body.

Fish contains proteins with high levels of biological value and varying amounts of fats, which can be as high as 10% of total weight. Fats in fish contain polyunsaturated fatty acids; the family of omega-3 fatty acids, in particular, is considered beneficial in the prevention of cardiovascular disease. Eggs have such a high protein content that for years the protein composition of eggs was the standard of reference for evaluating the quality of protein in other foods. Biscuits consist of several ingredients and their composition, in terms of nutrients and energy value, is extremely variable; in general, simple sugar content is important, while fat content is highly variable with an approximate average of 9% to 25%. Meat consumption, especially lean meats, is important because it provides high quality proteins. Fat content is variable. Depending on the type of meat, it can vary from almost zero to nearly 30%, primarily saturated and monounsaturated fats, with only a small percentage of polyunsaturates. As illustrated in numerous versions of the Food Pyramid prepared by national and international institutions which rank them at the top, it is preferable to consume white meat and moderate the consumption of red meat. It is the same for puddings and desserts which are high in fat and simple sugars and should also be eaten in moderation.

The environmental impact of our diet can vary, even significantly, according to what we put on the plate. With this in mind, and in order to merge the Double Pyramid model with everyday life, BCFN Foundations adopted the task of analysing the affect of three weekly menus, all nutritionally balanced and with the same calorie content. The sustainable menu includes both meat (preferring light meat) and fish, paying attention to the correct balance between proteins originating from plants and animals. In the vegetarian menu, meat and fish are excluded, the sources of proteins are plant (legumes) and animal, derived from cheese, dairy products in general, and egg. Lastly, the meat based menu provides a higher consumption of proteins of animal origin.

Both the sustainable BCFN Foundations and vegetarian menus have a lower environmental impact compared to that of the meat menu. In concrete terms, if a person were to avoid eating meat twice a week over the course of a year, it would result in an annual savings of 310 Kg in CO2 emissions. If all Italian citizens chose not to eat meat for one day a week, there would be a total savings of 198,000 tons of CO2, equivalent to the annual electricity consumption of almost 105,000 families or 1.5 billion km driven by car. In practical terms, eating one less meat dish each week would allow the removal of 3.5 million motor vehicles from the road each year. The value of the food and environment pyramid is two-fold: on the one hand, it represents an excellent synthesis of the main concepts acquired from medicine, studies on nutrition and the impact our choices have on our Planet. On the other hand, it is a powerful educational tool regarding consumption thanks to its graphic and intuitive simplicity.
BCFN Foundation - Sustainable Diet
BCFN Foundation - The Double Pyramid Promoting Sustaible Eating


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