• Italy's news in English
 
app_header_v3
Italy's youth shun the Mediterranean diet
A study has shown that just one third of Italy's youngsters follow a traditional Mediterranean diet. Photo: Shutterstock

Italy's youth shun the Mediterranean diet

The Local · 29 Dec 2015, 10:31

Published: 29 Dec 2015 10:31 GMT+01:00

The study, published in the journal Eating and Weight Disorders this month, revealed that less than half of all Italians now follow the Mediterranean diet, with only a third of those aged 15-24 conforming to the traditional and healthy way of eating.

The famed Mediterranean diet is less a strict set of dishes and more a general nutritional model based around seasonal fresh fruit and vegetables, olive oil, pulses and seafood.

But the study, carried out by scientists at Rome's University of Tor Vergata, suggests that these dishes are disappearing from Italian tables.

Thirty-one percent of Italy's youngsters who were interviewed for the study even professed a preference for so-called 'Western' diets, typified by their high red meat content.

The health benefits of the Mediterranean diet were first put forward in 1970, after almost 20 years of research, in The Seven Countries Study in 1970.

The study revealed that there was a strong correlation between the diets of southern Italy, Greece and the Dalmation coast and a lower incidence of coronary heart disease and strokes.

“As part of that study, an index measuring to what extent Italians followed a Mediterranean diet gave average scores of eight out of 10,” Antonino De Lorenzo from Tor Vergata University told La Repubblica.

“Today's Italians average scores of two.”

To put that into context, in the US – a country that has no tradition of the Mediterranean diet - people average a score of one.

The health implications of Italians' abandonment of traditional ways of eating in favour of a westernized diet appear pronounced.

Figures show that one third of all Italian children under eight is obese – giving Italy the second highest childhood obesity figures in the OECD, after Greece.

Story continues below…

But according to De Lorenzo, childhood obesity is just the tip of the iceberg.

“Istat [the national statistic agency]  figures show that in 2015 there were more than 66,000 more unexplained deaths than in 2014 – one hypothesis for this is that the changing diet is one of the causes.

“The diet industry and mass media have a lot to do with it – but how many lives do we need to lose before we return to a healthy way of eating?” 

For more news from Italy, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

The Local (news@thelocal.it)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Italian team finds vaccine against western diet's ills
An Italian team have discovered a vaccine that could protect against illnesses caused by the typical western diet. Photo: Alpha/Joe Flintham/Flickr

The vaccine could reduce incidences of type 2 diabetes and heart problems commonly associated with obesity.

The Local List
12 mistakes foreigners make when moving to Italy
Photo: Alberto Fava/Flickr

When you move to Italy, you're bound to make a few mistakes before you settle into la dolce vita. Here are a few to look out for...

Higuain goes from hero to zero after big-money Juve deal
The striker moved to Juventus on Monday for €90 million.Photo: Carlo Hermann/AFP

Napoli fans are furious with their former Argentinian talisman after his big-money move to rivals Juventus.

Fiat Chrysler revises 'doctored' sales figures amid probe
Fiat Chrysler is being investigated over allegations it doctored US sales figures. Photo: Giuseppe Cacace/AFP

The company now says it did not really celebrate a streak of monthly year-over-year sales gains going back to April 2010.

Napoli's Gonzalo Higuain joins Juventus: official
Gonzalo Higuain is now a Juventus player. Photo: Nelson Almedia/AFP

Gonzalo Higuain completed his move to Juventus after the Italian champions reportedly agreed to pay a €94.7 million buyout clause to wrest the Argentine striker from Napoli on Tuesday.

Italy's government nets €759 million in air traffic sale
Italy has sold part of its air traffic service company Enav. Photo: Luigi Rosa/Flickr

The Italian government on Tuesday sold part of air traffic service company Enav on the stock exchange, netting €759 million.

After Brexit, keep a close eye on Italy's Five Star Movement
Italy's Five Star Movement (MS5) is now the country's most popular political party. Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP

The political pulse of Italy has changed its rhythm.

'Hoax' package causes bomb scare on Milan's underground
The suspect package created chaos for rush hour travellers on the city's underground. Photo: Marco Bertorello/AFP

"It was probably left there deliberately to create panic."

Rome cracks down on splash-happy fountain dippers
Rome's fountains may seem tempting, but bathing is forbidden. Photo: TrastevereRM/Delilah Jay/Sean Mcentry

Cooling off with a midnight dip in Rome's famous Trevi Fountain may sound like a dream "Roman Holiday", but an Italian police crackdown has landed a series of splash-happy tourists with fat fines.

Panama Papers show Italian bribes' path to Algeria
A plaque outside the offices of Geneva-based law firm Mossack Fonseca. Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP

Law firm Mossack Fonseca created companies through which the Milan oil services company Saipem SpA allegedly paid €250 million to win €9.1 billion in oil and gas deals.

Sponsored Article
Avoid hidden fees when sending money overseas
Travel
Five crowd-free alternatives to Italy's tourist hotspots
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
National
Italian hotspots struggling with 'too many tourists'
Culture
Meet the Italian chef behind the world's best restaurant
Travel
Escape the heat at one of these beautiful Italian lakes
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Politics
Why the UK is now officially crazier than Italy
Culture
How you can stay cool like an ancient Roman
Lifestyle
Food for thought: fight on to save Med diet from extinction
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
National
From asylum seeker in Italy to organic yoghurt entrepreneur
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
National
Fifteen maps that tell the story of Italy
National
Why Italy might be the next big threat to the EU's future
Sponsored Article
Five things Americans should know about voting abroad
Politics
Post Brexit, less than a third of Italians want to leave EU
Politics
The bright side of Brexit: the 'good news' for Brits in Italy
Culture
Eight wonderful things to do in Italy in July
Sponsored Article
Avoid hidden fees when sending money overseas
Travel
Six of the best places to visit within easy reach of Rome
British business owners in Italy feel Brexit jitters
National
How to get Italian citizenship (or at least stay forever)
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Politics
Where does Britain's exit from the EU leave Italy?
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Politics
Has the time come for Italy’s Five Star Movement to shine?
Society
Why Italy must change after young woman’s brutal murder
Politics
Is Italy's Five Star up to the challenge of running Rome?
Culture
Six of the most bizarre Italian foods everyone should try
2,576
jobs available