Changes in food supply in Mediterranean countries from 1961 to 2001

Reina Garcia-Closas, Antoni Berenguer, Carlos A González
Public Health Nutrition 2006, 9 (1): 53-60

OBJECTIVE: To describe geographical differences and time trends in the supply of the most important food components of the traditional Mediterranean diet.

DESIGN: Food supply data collected from national food balance sheets for the period 1961-2001.

SETTING: Selected Mediterranean countries: Spain, Italy, France, Greece, Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia and Turkey.

RESULTS: Differences of almost 30-fold and five-fold were found in the supply of olive oil and fruits and vegetables, respectively, among the Mediterranean countries studied during the 1960s. A favourable increasing trend for the supply of fruit and vegetables was observed in most Mediterranean countries. However, an increase in the supply of meats and dairy products and a decrease in the supply of cereals and wine were observed in European Mediterranean countries from 1961 until 2001. Only in African and Asiatic Mediterranean countries were cereals the base of food supply. During the 1990s, Greece's food supply pattern was closest to the traditional Mediterranean diet, while Italy and Spain maintained a high availability of fruits, vegetables and olive oil, but were losing the other typical components. Among African and Asiatic Mediterranean countries, only Turkey presented a traditional Mediterranean dietary pattern except with respect to olive oil, the supply of which was very low. France showed a Western dietary pattern, with a high supply of animal products and a low supply of olive oil.

CONCLUSIONS: Dietary supplies in the Mediterranean area were quite heterogeneous in the 1960s and have experienced a process of Westernization, especially in European Mediterranean countries.

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