The Universal diet? "Made by calorie accountants"
According to Giorgio Calabrese the diet suggested by Eat-Lancet "lacks common sense"
"Where common sense is lacking, economic interest is often hiding". The opinion of Prof. Giorgio Calabrese, authoritative Italian nutritionist, Chairman of the Food Safety Committee of the Ministry of the Health, is very critical of the "Universal Diet of Reference" published by "The Lancet" (Food in the Anthropocene: the EAT-Lancet Commission on healthy diets from sustainable food systems), which, in addition to suggesting a general double global consumption of fruit, vegetables, legumes and nuts, enters into particulars assigning daily food doses almost measured with a goldsmith’s precision scale. "Those who have made this diet, both foreigners and Italians, are not clinicians - says Calabrese - and by giving these solutions become people whom I call calorie accountants: to allocate 14 grams of red meat, 29 of chicken, 28 of fish and 13 grams of eggs provokes me to smile. These are only theoretical matters and they do not understand that people cannot rely on these indications".
What comes to light, Professor?
"That there is a scientific inadequacy, as with he who says ''I have understood that garlic contains allyl which lowers blood pressure'', and I answer him: You’ll need a truck a day! Because it is not enough to morally state what could create a positivity. Therefore, this diet is made up by people who have never examined a patient, or if they have examined one, they have little experience in managing people's lives. In short, this diet is not only unbalanced and a fantasy, in the sense that it has imagination, but it is not feasible. We must stop declaring certain things. As with those who say ''let’s do the Palaeolithic diet and go back ten million years”: but why do we have to bring this to mind when in the Palaeolithic they lived twelve or fifteen years, while we have a life expectation of 87 to 89 years?".
This diet, in principle, was basically proposed as a variant of the Mediterranean diet, now acquired by UNESCO as a world heritage. So what sense does it have to publish further research of this type? What is the motive, the purpose?
"It is commercial, even if it contains truths. But where common sense is lacking, economic interest often hides. Putting limitations on meat and fish what is left? Carbohydrates, vegetables and fruit, and then at a certain point you’ll see that soybeans jump out...".
The attenuating ethics are that this diet fits into a wider framework: food and environmental sustainability in the coming decades, when the world population will reach 10 billion. Is it likely to tackle the problem on a global scale?
"No, absolutely not. Although we, as scientists, must work to make food sustainable for the environment and feasible for the pockets".
Is there a real sensitivity amongst the scientific and industrial institutions about the problem of long-term environmental sustainability?
"If we talk about Italy and parts of Europe, I think so. But if we look at America, with its brilliant president, to the other States of South America and China, I have many doubts that these problems are posed, which are real, and if we don’t solve them we are not going to make it".
In the scientific field is research moving with determination in this direction?
"Of course, for many years. But the solutions found are not of the greatest absolute good, but of the lesser evil. To be absurd, if we all become vegan we will die younger knowing that outside there is a cleaner environment. But I repeat, in front of certain things I smile...".
Does another study by the University of Melbourne, published recently in the British Medical Journal, which advises not to have breakfast to lose weight make you smile also?
"Of course, it's another mistake: to stay healthy, it's not sufficient to lose weight by ingesting fewer calories in the morning".
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