The Project


Half of the adult population in EU (51.8%) was grouped as overweight in 2017, being about 14.9% of adults classified as obese. Urbanization, the fast pace of life, and a westernalized diet, rich in ultra-processed food and poor in fresh fruit, are among the drivers of the consumption of lower quality food: deficient in micronutrients and unbalanced macronutrient content.

These unbeneficial behaviours lead to malnutrition and overpressure on food systems, that are in contrast to Mediterranean Diet and lifestyle. Sociocultural, technological, geopolitical, and educational factors play an important role in the Mediterranean Diet adherence, which is the main scope of DELICIOUS.

Malnutrition leads to 4 million deaths globally and costs society up to USD 3.5 trillion per year. The malnutrition double burden is expressed by:
  1. Raising overweight and obesity rates leading to increasing rates of noncommunicable (chronic) diseases (also called NCDs) like type II diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and some cancers, that cause 4 million deaths globally;
  2. Increasing rates of food poverty pointing that 1 out of 9 people in the world is undernourished, with a special focus on the hidden hunger (lack of micronutrients intake).
The rise of paediatric obesity in the Mediterranean region often leads to further NCDs during the adulthood. Specially, in the Eastern Med Region (EMR) prevalence of obesity and overweight in schooled children ranged between 7 to 45% and increased from 22.9% to 25% in the Med region of European countries.

 High environmental pressure of food systems has devastating consequences for climate change and biodiversity. Current food systems share 20-35% of global GHG (Green House Gas) emissions. Mediterranean agricultural production covers almost 40% of arable land and the is one of the most vulnerable regions to climate change. Adaptation through more resilient food systems is, thus, mandatory. The ecological footprint due to food production in the Mediterranean region ranges from 20% (Slovenia) to 70% (Morocco), depending on the dietary patterns, cultural and geopolitical factors.

How are going to tackle the obesity and ecological footprint problems?

The main goal is to spread and disseminate good eating habits and healthy food choices among children and adolescents aged 6-12 and 13-17. The project will last for 36 months and will be developed through social market research (consumer study), gastronomic investigation, promotion of physical activity, the participation of children, adolescents and their families, Life Cycle Assessment, technology, non-formal educational material (toys/games) and school materials. This way, more adherence to Mediterranean Diet as well as better eating habits in the general public will be achieved.
DELICIOUS will reinforce the Mediterranean lifestyle, which includes diet, physical activity and socio-cultural heritage of the Mediterranean societies through an integrated approach, combining technological and educational aspects.

This will empower consumers to make more sustainable and healthier food choices in line with the Mediterranean Diet. The project is organized in 7 case studies, implemented in schools from 5 countries, chosen due to their high prevalence in paediatric obesity and representatives of different Mediterranean geographical areas. The participating schools in DELICIOUS present different socioeconomic contexts and include rural and urban environments.

These are the objectives of the project:


Identify, qualify and quantify the factors influencing a decline in MD adherence in children & adolescences in the Med region, including those related to consumer needs and preferences, and taking into account local determinants of food choices.
Assess the sustainability of different MD recipes considering 3 perspectives: environmental (via Life Cycle Assessment, LCA), economic (via Life Cycle Costing, LCC) and social (via Social Life Cycle Assessment, S-LCA).
Design culture-adapted physical activity intervention programs in schools to prevent and reduce obesity in Med children and adolescents and promote an active lifestyle.
Develop, produce and validate new food products and reformulate recipes in line with the MD, targeting children and adolescents.
Develop a digital platform (web/app) that provides weekly diet plans based on Med recipes with a nutritional balance and transparency of sustainability data.
Implement educational actions in schools to promote a dietary shift in Mediterranean children and adolescents increasing the adherence to MD.
Maximise the impact of the project through dissemination and communication of the project results to different audiences and through exploitation activities.
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