“Carpatho-Danubian” diet, at the heart of a UBB Med project, launched on World Obesity Day

The National Competence Center in Healthy Lifestyle, founded by the Romanian Academy and UBBMed, is launching the CARPO project for healthy eating behavior on Monday, March 4, 2024, on the occasion of World Obesity Day.

Carpatho-Danubian food pyramid. PHOTO: CARPO project

CARPO is the acronym for the “Carpatho-Danubian” diet, preliminarily validated at the level of expert groups and recently recommended in the country by the Romanian Federation of Diabetes, Nutrition and Metabolic Diseases (FRDNBM), the Romanian Society of Endocrinology (SRE) and the Forum Romanian Obesity (FORO) (CARPO is also the Greek goddess who protected crops and food).

The National Center of Competence in Healthy Lifestyle aims to ensure advanced scientific validity and to put this model in a bio-psycho-social context through which it is easier to be widely implemented and assimilated and to be promoted by specialists in field and in public policies. Thus, the CARPO project proposed here involves several stages:

through the involvement of nutrition science specialists from UBBMed, in the first half of 2024, Romanian products that can replace Mediterranean/Nordic products will be biochemically analyzed, while respecting the principles of the Mediterranean/Nordic diet.

Following this approach, in the fall of this year a “Carpatho-Danubian” diet will be established by implementing various products and menus-diets.

Also starting in the fall of 2024, the “Carpatho-Danubian” diet will be tested in controlled clinical trials, involving the UBB Canteen, the University Clinic of Psychology, which will analyze the implications on mental health and adherence mechanisms (including cognitive-behavioral changes in behavior food), as well as various UBBMed structures, which, through the existing laboratories (e.g. UBB-STEM and within the Faculty of Biology and Geology and the Faculty of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering), in collaboration with other necessary specialists, will analyze the biomedical implications .

Conclusions and practical implications, based on scientific evidence, will be formulated in early 2025.

Eating behavior majorly burdened by pseudoscience

Conformable World Health Organization :

Tens of millions of people die annually in the world, in 2023 there will be 60,760,150 deaths.

Chronic non-communicable diseases (NCDs) cover about 70% of the total annual number of deaths, and almost half of the deaths caused by NCDs are premature (before the age of 70).

Cardiovascular disease, cancer, chronic respiratory disease and diabetes account for 80% of premature deaths from NCDs.

Obesity is a clinical problem as a NCB in itself and a transversal problem between other NCBs.

Therefore, a healthy eating behavior can help both to optimize and promote health (e.g. vitality, activism, etc.), as well as to prevent and treat some diseases. The field of eating behavior is heavily burdened by pseudoscience, with food advice and prescriptions related to products/menus(diets)/nutrition/often erroneous, formulated by non-specialists or by specialists without a comprehensive bio-psycho-social approach, which not only do not they help but often have negative effects. However, the scientific analyzes so far have highlighted several healthy diets, among which the Mediterranean and Nordic diets have the best support (see US-News analysis).

Food in a bio-psycho-social context

Univ. Prof. Dr. Daniel David, co-director of the National Center of Competence in Healthy Lifestyle, points out that “ffounder of the Clinical Center for Diabetes, Nutrition and Metabolic Diseases in Cluj-Napoca, prof. Dr. Nicolae Hâncu, together with his team, has already proposed the construction, based on the principles of scientifically validated nutrition, of a “Carpathian-Danubian” diet (CARPO), in the sense of including accessible and existing food products on the territory of our country. Indeed, it is unrealistic to believe that the Mediterranean/Nordic diets will be able to be implemented in Romania on a large scale with products imported directly from those areas, taking into account the availability of the products and their costs, this option being unproductive for the country's economy. In addition, the complex relationships between food products, the environment, and the organism raised with these products in a target environment can play an important role in ensuring health status.”

Finally, university professor Dr. Daniel David adds that “starting with nutrition “Carpathian-Danubian”, which, in a biomedical model, tells us “what” and “how much” should be eaten, we add the psychological component answering “when”, “where” and “how” should be eaten. Only in such a comprehensive bio-psycho-social context as this the theoretical prescription related to food (what/how much) can turn into a food behavior part of a healthy lifestyle, otherwise often everything remains on paper and/or it is quantified as a new failure in changing eating behavior”.

The first partners of the project are the Lidl Romania store chain and Confindustria Romania.