University of Naples launches a funding call for innovative research partnerships on Lifelong Nutrition

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Published: December 18, 2023
Studies on the positive effects of bioactive compounds contained in plant-based foods for defining healthier dietary patterns. Mapping of the population for lifestyle improvement, with particular attention to local food consumption and psychophysical activities. Finally, innovative approaches for creating functional foods to enhance diets. These are the three research themes within which Spoke 5's cascade funding supports innovative projects for more than 5 million euros.

The cascade funding, provided by the University of Naples Federico II as the coordinator of Spoke 5 Lifelong Nutrition, finances project proposals submitted by research partnerships external to OnFoods for over 5 million euros. The objective is to involve entities interested in implementing fundamental and applied research projects and technology transfer within the themes of Spoke 5 that are original, innovative, and of medium to large scale.

Spoke 5 - Lifelong Nutrition

A nutritionally balanced diet is essential for optimal growth and healthy bodies and minds, especially during the early years of life. However, it is crucial not only for individual well-being but also for promoting sustainable development by influencing economic growth, social well-being, and environmental sustainability.

As stipulated in Sustainable Development Goal 2 ("End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture") of the United Nations' 2030 Agenda, due to its unique transformative potential, proper nutrition plays a pivotal role in achieving many other Global Goals.

Investing in safe, adequate, and sustainable nutrition means empowering people, societies, and communities while fostering resilience, progress, and prosperity across all nations. For example, a well-nourished population with more chances to access economic opportunities can reduce different poverty levels (SDG 1). Opting for healthier dietary choices can also promote good health and well-being (SDG 3), as both under and over-nutrition are linked to both rural and urban environments (SDG 11). Improved nutrition can further contribute to promoting gender equality (SDG 5) and reducing inequalities (SDG 10). In food production and consumption, nutrition also significantly influences various environment-related targets, including SDGs 6, 7, 9, 12, 13, 14, and 15.

Unhealthy and unsustainable diets, especially during the first 1,000 days of life, can undermine multiple dimensions of human lives, ranging from primary levels of education to the possibility of shaping individual professional careers. Understanding the nutritional status of a country's population can be very useful for identifying and addressing specific dietary deficiencies, as well as educating and raising awareness about the benefits of proper nutrition for health, economic, social, and developmental purposes.

On these premises, Spoke 05 "Longlife nutrition," with the slogan "A healthy diet for all," promotes food and nutrition security through a life-course approach according to the needs of different population groups based on age, gender, and predisposition to disease.

Starting from mapping the national population's nutritional status and disseminating the healthy and sustainable principles of the Mediterranean Diet, Spoke 05 aims to facilitate models for healthy nutritional patterns.

"The cascade calls provided by the OnFoods project - says Professor Annamaria Colao, the coordinator of Spoke 5 -  represent a unique opportunity to enhance collaborations between the academic world and companies operating in the agri-food sector. This call will address relevant issues with a global approach, synergizing the strengths and expertise of various academic disciplines with the specialized knowledge of companies in the respective sector. Specifically, the cascade call promoted by Spoke 5 aims to fund activities of beneficiaries operating in Southern Italy, also ensuring a boost for the socio-economic development of the Southern regions.

The topics proposed by Spoke 5's cascade call align with the "One Health" approach to health, founded on the interconnectedness of the health of all terrestrial ecosystems. Lifestyle is one of the major determinants of both human and planetary health. In 2019, the EAT-Lancet Commission proposed a healthy and sustainable dietary pattern based on plant-based foods (such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, and vegetable oils) for the documented beneficial effects of bioactive compounds contained therein. However, it is necessary to delve into the mechanisms through which these components can exert their health effects without posing risks to consumers.

Improving safety and nutritional quality for the general population can, therefore, be promoted through strategies for producing innovative functional foods or nutraceuticals using new food matrices or traditional foods. The project activities submitted for the cascade calls will contribute to the development of personalized nutritional intervention strategies aimed at meeting the specific needs of vulnerable population groups (pregnant women, children in the first thousand days of life, and the elderly)."

Description of research themes

Based on the aforementioned premises, the general objectives of the OnFoods project, and the specific objectives outlined in Spoke 5, dedicated to food and nutrition security based on the specific needs of different population groups, the following strategic research themes are defined to implement the expected results and impact of Spoke 5's research and development activities.

  • Theme 1. Evaluation of the mechanisms underlying the beneficial effects of bioactive compounds characteristic of dietary patterns based on plant-based foods.
  • Theme 2. Dietary patterns, fertility, and longevity.
  • Theme 3. Innovative approaches for creating functional foods.

Main info and materials

Call code PE00000003_1 – Published on 18/12/2023. University Official Register no. 10469/2023.

Deadline: February 1, 2024 (at 2:00 PM)
Proposal evaluation period: February 2, 2024 – March 13, 2024
Communication/publication of results: within 45 days from the closing of the call
Project commencement: within 15 days from the signing of the Obligation Agreement

Attachment 1 – Regulatory References
Attachment 2 – Definitions.
Attachment 3 – Research Themes.
Attachment 4 – Obligation Agreement Template.

Guidelines for completing the application
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This blog post is related to

Spoke 05

Lifelong nutrition

A healthy diet for all

Lead organisationUniNa

Spoke leaderAnnamaria Colao

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