Food consumption patterns in a mediterranean region: does the mediterranean diet still exist?

Josep A Tur, Dora Romaguera, Antoni Pons
Annals of Nutrition & Metabolism 2004, 48 (3): 193-201

AIMS: To assess the food consumption patterns in the adult population of a Mediterranean region: the Balearic Islands (BI).

METHODS: A cross-sectional nutritional survey was carried out in the BI between 1999 and 2000. A random sample (n = 1,200) of the adult population (16-65 years) was interviewed. Dietary habits were assessed by means of 24-hour recall during 2 non-consecutive days, the first in the warm season and the second in the cold season, and a quantitative food frequency questionnaire. Anthropometric measurements were also obtained.

RESULTS: Current food patterns in the BI are characterized by a prominent consumption of dairy products, vegetables, fruit, bread, soft drinks and meat. According to the dietary guidelines for the Spanish population, only appropriate consumption of olive oil and other fats, dairy products, nuts, and soft drinks have been achieved. Intakes of fruit, vegetables, fish, eggs, pulses, cereals and potatoes are below desirable levels. On the other side, intakes of sugary products, sweets and cakes are higher than desirable. Alcohol intake, in the context of the Mediterranean diet, can be considered as acceptable.

CONCLUSIONS: The dietary patterns observed among the BI population are in harmony with the actual dietary trends in Spain and other Mediterranean countries. Mediterranean dietary habits still exist, but a progressive departure from the traditional Mediterranean diet is being observed mainly in younger generations. It would be desirable to increase the consumption of fish, vegetables, fruit, cereals and pulses and decrease the intake of food sources containing saturated fat.

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