Tuscany Living Lab aims to promote a healthy and conscious approach towards food and nutrition in(for) middle and high school students, their families and the elderly attending senior centres. To this end, the Living Lab as a first step intends to investigate factors within the target population that may influence the adoption and maintenance of healthy dietary behaviors over time. IThrough structured surveys and focus groups, various dimensions such as habits, knowledge, psychological and social aspects, barriers and nutrition-related needs will be analyzed. Based on the results, Tuscany Living Lab plans to organize «Thematic Food Labs», namely comprehensive frameworks of pragmatic actions that can meet the needs and mitigate, or possibly overcome, the obstacles to support the adoption of a healthy diet in a sustainable way. Best practices will be identified, and a co-design process will be promoted to tailor interventions based on shared decision-making with the target population and feasible with local resources.
Who we would like to support
Tuscany Living Lab aims to focus on middle and high school students, their families and the elderly attending senior centres. According to national documents and investigations, Italian adolescents often exhibit unhealthy dietary behaviours that do not align with the Mediterranean Diet , leading to various problems such as increased risk of overweight and obesity and other risk factors for chronic non-communicable diseases (NCDs), nutritional deficiencies and eating disorders. However, adolescence is alsoa critical phase of life that can offer numerous opportunities to develop healthy and sustainable habits through a proactive and preventive approach, which can be reflected in adulthood. Furthermore, including families can also amplify the benefits of the project, acting both as preventive intervention for their health and sustained behavior in adolescents. Likewise, ageing brings numerous changes that can affect the dimension of food and nutrition and consequently the quality of life and well-being. For instance, physiological, social and economic changes often lead elderly to adopt unhealthy approaches and habits towards nutrition, which can increase the risk of developing NCDs and hinder the control of already present diseases and the effects of pharmacological therapies.
Get to know the region
Piana di Lucca (~170.000 inhab.) and Valle del Serchio (~56.000 inhab.) are two District Zones within the Northwest Health Authority of Tuscany Region. These areas boast a high life expectancy (~83 years), and have a significant population of people aged 65+ (~16.000 for Valle del Serchio and ~42.000 for Piana di Lucca). They are characterized by a harmonious balance of towns, small villages, mountain and maritime areas, full of history, art and culture. In particular, these areas have a very rich agri-food heritage, including the production of olive oil, wine, vegetables, fruits, cereals, and legumes, all of which belong to the Mediterranean Food Tradition. Moreover, the regions are popular for food & wine tourism, which in turn supports the local community in maintaining high value food production. Social and health initiatives have developed around these sectors, combining the objective of enhancing and disseminating local products with that of promoting their consumption as components of a healthy and sustainable diet.
Local Food Challenges
In alignment with national plans and guidelines on promoting healthy food behaviours, and preventing unhealthy eating habits, it is crucial to develop life-course interventions that can change and improve food habits and choices towards a healthy approach, especially considering and mitigating the barriers that may hinder this change. Despite frequent exposure to the principles of the Mediterranean Diet, the Italian population shows poor adherence to the model and insufficient application of the principles in everyday life, highlightingthe importance of addressing bothboth awareness and knowledge, and real-life context to change behavior. In this light, it is also important to consider t the impact of marketing on unhealthy food choices and the access to healthy food based on social and economic conditions. Furthermore, supporting the One Health approach is also crucial, as the healthy food choices of individuals have an interconnected impact on both personal health and the environment. In the framework of FEAST, Tuscany Living Lab aims to analyze the factors influencing healthy and sustainable food behaviors in middle and high school students, their families and the elderly attending senior centres. Based on the findings, , it plans to provide sustainable and pragmatic interventions that meet the identified needs, and mitigate and overcome the obstacles.
Living Lab Actions
As a first step, Tuscany Living Lab intends to investigate the factors that may influence the adoption and maintenance of conscious and healthy dietary behaviors within the target population. To this end, a literature review will be conducted to detect the best dimensions to be analyzed. Following this phase, the Living Lab will design comprehensive surveys to be administered to the target population and will organise focus groups to collect more detailed responses and insights to enhance the effectiveness and sustainability of the intervention. Based on the results, Tuscany Living Lab plans to organize «Thematic Food Labs», namely general frameworks of pragmatic actions that can meet the needs and mitigate, or possibly overcome, the obstacles to support the adoption of a healthy diet in a sustainable way. To this end, a gathering process of best practices useful for the emerged needs and feasible with local resources will be executed. Consequently, Tuscany Living Lab will gather the best practices suitable for the identified needs and feasible with local resources. Subsequently, to facilitate a co-design process and shared decision-making, Tuscany Living Lab will present the results and feasible interventions to the target population for selection of the best actions to implement. Finally, to support the long-term diffusion and sustainability of the project, a communication plan will be developed and implemented.