MILAN – A panel of high level national and international experts from the WHO, the Ministry of Health and the Charta of Milan entered into discussions at the Expo on 11th June this year, on the topic of wellbeing, health, and the essential role played by proper hydration in the prevention of many diseases. This was possible thanks to the event organised by FEMTEC and the Charta of Milan, with the support of the Sanpellegrino Group, entitled “Hydration and Health, the hidden link”. The event was also an opportunity to request the Ministry of Health to institute a National Hydration Day; an important step towards ensuring that proper hydration is included amongst the main health objectives of future international policies, in the hope of bringing about a World Hydration Day. The appeal was conceived from evidence which emerged from the Consensus Paper, “Water & Health: How water protects and improves health overall”; an analysis of clinical studies and the most important scientific literature on hydration produced by FEMTEC – World Federation of Hydrotherapy and Climatotherapy, with the technical support of the World Health Organisation’s Traditional and Complementary Medicine team, included in the Hydration Manifesto; a document outlining the principles set out by experts for proper hydration.
The incidence of hydration
Obesity (with an incidence of 10% in Italy and 600 million people obese in the world, the WHO foresees that in 2030, Europe will have to face a real obesity epidemic), cardiovascular disease (responsible for 44% of deaths in Italy), diabetes (5 million patients in Italy and according to the WHO, around 346 million people globally are affected by diabetes), kidney diseases (chronic kidney disease concerns 5-6 million Italians)… all diseases where correct eating habits play a very important role, as has been widely demonstrated and established. All diseases where now, for the first time, it has been stated in black and white terms that proper hydration also makes a difference. It is not just a case of healthy eating, therefore, but also proper hydration.
The request for a Hydration Day
“Scientific literature leads us these days to confirm that adequate hydration is one of the main pillars of an appropriate modern lifestyle, necessary for staying in good health. We are also aware of the importance of correct information, for specialists and citizens alike. It is precisely for this reason we have chosen EXPO 2015 as a unique opportunity to discuss these themes and reach a very large number of people – declared Prof. Umberto Solimene, President of FEMTEC and the Centro di Ricerche Bioclimatologia Medica, Medicina Termale e Scienze del Benessere [centre for medical bioclimatology, spa medicine and wellness science] at the University of Milan – I believe that the documents presented today and the request for a Hydration Day are particularly important and meaningful. It is a commitment shared by all the representatives who participated in this project, because the messages which have emerged have not been fully realised here today, but are a very real legacy which could affect future behaviour”.
The scientific contribution to the Charta of Milan
The Hydration Manifesto, drafted on the basis of evidence from the Consensus Paper, was signed by all the speakers present, with the aim of including proper hydration amongst the health objectives of future national and international policies and with the hope of a World Hydration Day - an official request of great significance which will indeed constitute, together with the Consensus Paper, a scientific contribution to proper hydration for the Charta of Milan; the “intangible legacy” of EXPO 2015 for future generations.
The Charta of Milan, as Prof. Salvatore Veca explains, consists of, amongst other things, the objective of: “raising awareness of the fundamental connection between nutrition, hydration and health. The big global theme of water, which is naturally prominent in other parts of the Charter and which takes on importance in a wide range of different contexts in the world, can and must also be applied in the realm of people’s individual responsibility for their lifestyle and education about healthy and adequate nutrition”.
“The Consensus Paper and Hydration Manifesto represent tangible signs post-EXPO 2015 of the crucial role of hydration for health in general – confirms Prof. Zhang Qi, TRM Team Coordinator, WHO Geneva – ultimately, our appeal is that hydration, with its significant role in Traditional and Complementary Medicine, is included in the objectives for preserving health, in information campaigns and in all those public initiatives extended towards the promotion of the healthy lifestyle as an instrument for preventing a multitude of illnesses and health conditions”.
The role of the Sanpellegrino Group
It is therefore a highly significant day, which has seen joint commitment on the part of public and private sectors, the scientific and academic worlds, as well as on institutional and productive levels. The event was also made possible by the Sanpellegrino Group: “Aware of the important role played by water in the life of every human being, Sanpellegrino, the leading Italian company in the mineral water sector, has worked for years with the objective of leveraging the importance of adequate hydration – asserts Stefano Agostini, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Sanpellegrino Group – In view of the close links of hydration with the theme of the Expo, namely food, Sanpellegrino has considered this to be a golden opportunity for drawing more attention to the theme at an international level, which unfortunately, is still little known or discussed and we are proud of the participation at all levels that this initiative has incurred and of the hopefully enduring outcomes which result from it”.