Journal of Food and Nutrition Research
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Journal of Food and Nutrition Research. 2013, 1(4), 59-67
DOI: 10.12691/jfnr-1-4-5
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A Preliminary Assessment of the Environmental Sustainability of the Current Italian Dietary Pattern: Water Footprint Related to Food Consumption

Roberto Capone1, , Massimo Iannetta2, Hamid El Bilali1, Nicola Colonna2, Philipp Debs1, Sandro Dernini3, Giuseppe Maiani4, Federica Intorre4, Angela Polito4, Aida Turrini4, Gianluigi Cardone1, Fabio Lorusso5 and Virginia Belsanti1

1Department of Sustainable Agriculture, Food and Rural Development, Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Bari (MAI-B, International Centre for Advanced Mediterranean Agronomic Studies (CIHEAM), Valenzano, Italy

2Italian National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development (ENEA), Rome, Italy

3Forum on Mediterranean Food Cultures/Plexus International Forum Onlus, Rome, Italy

4Agricultural Research Council - Research Centre on Food and Nutrition (CRA-NUT), Rome, Italy

5Faculty of Agriculture, University of Bari, Bari, Italy

Pub. Date: September 15, 2013

Cite this paper:
Roberto Capone, Massimo Iannetta, Hamid El Bilali, Nicola Colonna, Philipp Debs, Sandro Dernini, Giuseppe Maiani, Federica Intorre, Angela Polito, Aida Turrini, Gianluigi Cardone, Fabio Lorusso and Virginia Belsanti. A Preliminary Assessment of the Environmental Sustainability of the Current Italian Dietary Pattern: Water Footprint Related to Food Consumption. Journal of Food and Nutrition Research. 2013; 1(4):59-67. doi: 10.12691/jfnr-1-4-5


Sustainable diets concept has recently gained an increased momentum. The sustainability of food systems and diets is not simply related to health concerns as it also involves environmental impacts. The paper aims at analysing the environmental cost of non-adherence to the Mediterranean dietary pattern in from a water footprint perspective. The water footprint of the current Italian food consumption pattern is compared with North American and Scandinavian ones as well as with the proposed food Mediterranean dietary pattern i.e. the diet (MD). The paper is mainly based on secondary data from different sources (e.g. FAOSTAT; Water Footprint Network). According to FAOSTAT, food supplies in (3649 kcal/capita/day) and the (3766 kcal/capita/day) are slightly higher than in (3217 kcal/capita/day). The share of plant-based energy in the diet in (74.2%) and the (72.6%) is higher than in (63.5%). The average water footprint of an Italian citizen (1848.29 m3/capita/year) is 65.5% higher than a Finnish one (1116.69 m3/capita/year) but 15.9% lower than that of a North American citizen (2198.66 m3/capita/year). Meat and dairy products represent more than a half of the total water footprint of food supply. The water footprint of the current Italian dietary pattern is 69.9% higher than that of the proposed diet. That’s to say that a 100% adherence of the Italian population to the proposed Mediterranean diet from 2006 to 2011, would have allowed an estimated saving of about 152,749 million m3 of water; corresponding to total freshwater abstraction for about three and half years. Adherence of the Italian population to the Mediterranean dietary pattern can bring about not only significant health benefits but also reduces the food environmental footprint on natural resources especially water consumption.

Italian dietary pattern Mediterranean diet environmental sustainability water footprint sustainable diets

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