11 Oct 2016

The bcfn presents the new edition of the Double Pyramid

Just a few days prior to World Food Day (16 October), the Barilla Foundation launches the new version of the Double Food and Environmental Pyramid. One of the themes that will be discussed at the 7th International Forum on Food and Nutrition in Milan on 1 December

Milan 12/10/2016 - The Mediterranean diet? It’s not just the best food model with which to take care of one’s health and the environment, but could also be that “elixir of long life” that everyone is looking for. A scientific study has shown that choosing this diet can have a significant bearing on life expectancy, with an impact that can be compared to that seen between smokers and non-smokers. By strictly following this diet, with respect to those who opt for alternative food models, one’s life expectancy can be increased by an average of 4.5 years[1] ... and just consider how a nutritionally correct diet can also reduce our environmental impact. Health and sustainability, a pairing that can be summarised with the Double Food and Environmental Pyramid, the new version of which has been exclusively presented - just a few days prior to World Food Day taking place on 16 October - by the Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition (BCFN). The Double Pyramid will be one of the themes discussed at the 7th International Forum on Food and Nutrition, taking place in Milan on 1st December.


Thus, the aspects to consider with regard to food are two-fold: the environmental and the nutritional. In terms of sustainability, it is important to remember that in Europe[2] food production is in fact the human activity that impacts most on climate change (31%), more than that of heating buildings (23.6%) or of transport (18.5%). During COP21, it was revealed that food production systems are vulnerable and influenced by the negative effects of climate change[3] that, in turn, represents one of the main causes of denutrition and malnutrition in developing countries. A framework that becomes complicated if we consider how between now and 2100 the global temperature may increase by between 3.2°C and 5.4°C, while it is fundamental to keep the average temperature increase within a maximum of +2°C. From here stems the need to adopt food models that can be beneficial to both people and the planet. “The current food farming system is based on an incorrect perception of the value of food and on a short-sighted vision of how it should be produced and consumed. Up until now, the lack of natural resources - water, soil and air - and the damage caused by malnutrition have not been taken into consideration and for this reason, it is up to all of us to make a contribution, even a small one, starting with the food choices we make. Adopting a model such as the Mediterranean Diet, according to the principles of the Double Pyramid, can be a solution”, explained Luca Virginio, the BCFN Vice President.


Adopting correct food models also impacts on health and nutrition, a theme that is even relevant in Italy, where the Mediterranean Diet is a bastion. ISTAT talks about a country that, also thanks to this diet, boasts the oldest and thinnest citizens in Europe, but a gradual move away from this model, particularly among the young, means there is risk of this changing. Today almost 2 adolescents in 10 are overweight, with Italy reporting one of the highest rates of overweight and obese children in Europe, while the number of young people and adults who practice sport continues to drop (just 3 in 10). If we combine these two elements and consider future projections, there are clear repercussions in terms of illness incidence rates, with consequences such as diabetes (with a new case every 5 seconds), cardiovascular diseases (still the primary cause of death on a global level with 20 million deaths in 2015) and chronic illnesses (that represent 60% of deaths on a global level).



The Double Food and Environmental Pyramid is a graphical model that, in addition to the classic food pyramid (the principles of which correspond to those of the Mediterranean diet) presents a new (inverted) “environmental” pyramid in which foods are classified according to their ecological footprint, or rather the impact that their production can have on the environment. The first version was created in 2010, based on roughly 140 scientific sources, while today sees the publication of the seventh edition, based on more than 1300 sources. This growth in sources has strengthened the reliability of the hypotheses outlined in the first edition of the Double Pyramid, thus confirming its scientific validity. Today, the Double Pyramid has become a useful tool for the communication of sustainable diets, reminding us of the importance of our food choices in terms of health and the environment. The Double Pyramid shows us how those foods of low environmental impact are the same foods that nutritionists advise us to consume the most, while those with a higher ecological footprint are those that should be consumed in moderation.



When we talk about the Mediterranean Diet, we often also cite the “elixir of long life”. An American study has revealed a link between the adoption of this diet and the length of telomeres, small sections of DNA that are found at the end of chromosomes. Telomeres shorten with age, determining the ageing of cells. Shorter telomeres are associated with a shorter life expectancy and an increase in chronic illnesses. The study has shown how the difference in telomere length for each one-point change in the Mediterranean Model, evaluated with the AMED scale (Alternate Mediterranean Diet Score), corresponds to an average ageing of 1.5 years. A three-point change in the Mediterranean Model, which corresponds to an average 4.5 years of ageing, can be compared to the difference observed between smokers and non-smokers[4].


Luca Di Leo, Head of Media Relations, luca.dileo@barilla.com, +39 0521 2621

Caterina Grossi, Media Relations Manager, caterina.grossi@barillacfn.com, +39 0521 2621



Simone Silvi, Senior Account Media Relations, s.silvi@inc-comunicazione.it, +39 335.10.97.279

Francesca Riccardi, Media Relations Consultant, f.riccardi@inc-comunicazione.it, +39 335.72.51.741


The Barilla Foundation Center for Food & Nutrition (BCFN Foundation) serves as a think-tank and was founded in 2009 with the aim of analysing the important themes linked to food and nutrition across the world. With its multidisciplinary approach, it analyses the cause and effect relationship that economic, scientific, social and environmental factors have with food. The President and Vice President of the BCFN Foundation are Guido and Paolo Barilla, while the Board of Directors is composed of, among others, Carlo Petrini, president of Slow Food and Paolo De Castro, coordinator of the European Parliament’s agricultural and rural development commission. The guarantor for the work of the BCFN Foundation is the Advisory Board. For more information: www.barillacfn.com; www.protocollodimilano.it

[1] Cros-Bou, M., Fung, T.M., Prescott, J., Julin, B., Du, Mengmeng, Sun, Q., Rexrode, K.M., Hu, F.B., De Vivo, I. Mediterranean diet and telomere length in Nurses’ Health Study: population based cohort study, BMJ 349: g6674, 2014.
[2] Tukker A., Jansen B. Environmental Impacts of Products. Journal of Industrial Ecology (10):3, 2006
[3] UN (2016), Report of the Conference of the Parties on its twenty-first session, held in Paris from November 30 to December 13 2015
[4] Cros-bou et al., 2014

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