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Obesity and food waste — Is Italy becoming like the U.S.?

The new law recently evaluated by the Italian Chamber of Parliament should favour the responsible use of resources. Economic incentives and an overall streamlining of the bureaucratic procedures should help donors who want to recycle their food and drugs, and give them away to voluntary associations and non-government organisations (NGOs). The law will also allow the redistribution of food that has been confiscated from the mafia or other criminal organisations, as well as all residual food that’s left in the fields.

Nonetheless, Italians as a whole are now starting to feel the burden of bad dietary habits just like their overseas cousins. Italy has one of the richest and oldest food traditions of the entire world. Italian cuisine is often regarded as one of the most delicious ones across the planet, favouring quality over quantity, and choosing only the finest local products as ingredients. Modern science has always recommended Mediterranean diet as one of the most heart-healthy eating plans, yet it seems that Italians have now become quite careless about what and how to eat. Junk food has constantly gained ground over the course of the last few years, especially among the younger ones, as well as questionable dietary habits. Recent statistics from the Italian Ministry of Health pointed out how the yearly expenditure to cover prevent death and disability from nutrition-related diseases reached over €23 billion. In 2014 over 20 percent of children was overweight, and almost 10 percent of them suffered from obesity.

Even worse, Italian families waste a lot of food just like the other industrialized countries. According to data from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), every year consumers in the Western world waste almost as much food as the whole food production of sub-Saharan Africa (222 million vs. 230 million tons). Italian family waste 19 percent of the bread they buy, 17 percent of fruit and vegetables, 4 percent of pasta, and 39 percent of fresh products like milk, egg and meat. On average, each Italian citizen wastes 108 kilograms of food every year, which is still lower than the European average of 179 kilograms though. Food production is one of the leading causes of worldwide pollution, making food waste even more detrimental to global ecology.

In related news, we talked about new Italian food trends like eating insects, as well as a possible solution to worldwide intensive farming-based pollution through lab-cultured food.

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