Italy, healthy lifestyle for 1 in 3 adults. Nomisma Report


One in three adults in Italy maintains a healthy lifestyle. Take care of their nutrition and exercise. This is according to the report of the Unisalute (Unipol Group) Prevention & Health Observatory, edited by Nomisma and presented in Milan on 19.2.20.

The pleasure of eating well

The research institute surveyed a small sample, 1,000 Italian adults (ages 18-65), on lifestyle habits and attitudes toward prevention. It shows that 73 percent of those who follow a healthy lifestyle also undergo regular checkups and medical examinations. Conversely, those who lead sedentary lives and pay little attention to diet quality are less likely to seek preventive medical care.

Nutrition maintains a central role in daily attention. Indeed, food represents, for the sample surveyed,

– a factor of satisfaction, pleasure and happiness (68 percent),

– An excuse for convivial moments (49%),

– A tool for staying healthy (30 percent).

Breakfast with milk and/or other foods is an established habit for 90 percent of respondents. Only 8% limit themselves to drinking coffee or tea. And just 3% skip the first meal of the day altogether.

Lovers of the Mediterranean diet

The Mediterranean diet is confirmed to be the food model of choice. And the food pyramid associated with it finds effective application at the dinner table. In fact, among the foods most present-every day, even several times-are fruits (40 percent) and vegetables (39 percent), bread, pasta, rice, and potatoes (23 percent).

Red meat is consumed sparingly, just once a week for 46 percent of Italians. And with the same frequency fish is consumed. Most of the sample reports not consuming ‘many’ HFSS (High in Fat, Sugar and Salt) foods. 28% say they never eat sweets and snacks, another 29% consume them 2 to 3 times a week.

The must-have foods are extra virgin olive oil (64 percent), seasonal vegetables (53 percent), coffee (18 percent) and spices (5 percent).

The fear of obesity and related diseases

Globesity, the obesity epidemic that is also rampant in Italy, severely affecting children, seems to be a well-known and worrying reality for adults interviewed by Nomisma. 32% associate (correctly) unbalanced diets with overweight and obesity, 1 in 5 fear their correlation with cancer incidence, 16% associate them with hypercholesterolemia, and 15% with adverse effects on circulation and cardiovascular disease.

Against overweight and obesity, 51 percent of Italians say they have been on a low-calorie diet for the past two to three years. Another 15% have done so previously.

Do-it-yourself diets are still the most popular option. It was used by 83% of the sample who went on a diet, while 38% went to a dietician or nutritionist.

Exercise and health

To regain their fitness weight, 74% of Italians have started to play sports or increased the physical activity they were already doing. Overall, 28 percent of Italians play a sport continuously, 47 percent occasionally, including gentler modes such as walking, hiking or biking.

More numerous, however, are sedentary Italians, who do not engage in sports or exercise. An army of 9.4 million people between the ages of 18 and 65.

However, the benefits of sports combined with healthy eating go far beyond aesthetics. Those who adopt a healthy lifestyle say they feel better, in excellent health 39%, compared with 23% of those who do not pay attention to it.

Health in prevention

Those who pay attention to their well-being consider it important to have regular checkups (38 percent) and visit their primary care physician at least 2 times a year (71 percent), postponing visits only in case of minor problems (41 percent).

Conversely, those inattentive to diet and exercise prefer to make as few doctor’s visits as possible (21%), rarely visit the general practitioner (31% twice a year), and even more rarely visit the dentist (19% went 2 times in the past year).

Marta Strinati

Professional journalist since January 1995, he has worked for newspapers (Il Messaggero, Paese Sera, La Stampa) and periodicals (NumeroUno, Il Salvagente). She is the author of journalistic surveys on food, she has published the book "Reading labels to know what we eat".