Photo by epSos.de [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Adherence to the Mediterranean Diet Drops in Economic Hard Times

Frequency of consumption or adherence to the Mediterranean diet

Photo by Rannpháirtí anaithnid, spitzl (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons
Photo by Rannpháirtí anaithnid, spitzl (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons
has been on the decline in the past decade or so, though the exact reason why is not known. Of course, there are theories, but it is not clear what the causes are, or if there are multiple factors as work.

One theory is that this decrease in adherence to the Mediterranean diet may be linked to the global economic declines during the years between 2005 and 2010.

One recent study examined this very theory, surveying 21001 Italian citizens over the course of the five year period between 2005 and 2010. Adherence to the Mediterranean diet scores and wealth scores were monitored, as well as other socioeconomic data, for each participant over the course of the 5 year study.

Important Findings:

  • The greatest adherence to the Mediterranean diet was found from 2005-2006.
  • Adherence to the Mediterranean diet significantly decreased from 2007-2010.
    • This decrease was greater for the elderly participants, less affluent participants, and participants living in urban areas.
  • During the years of economic crisis from 2007-2010, the highest adherence to the Mediterranean diet was associated with participants of a higher socioeconomic status.
  • During the years prior to the economic crisis (2005-2006), there was NO association between adherence to the Mediterranean diet and socioeconomic status.

This study indicates that when in economically difficult times,

Photo by epSos.de [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Photo by epSos.de [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
socioeconomic status has a strong influence on adherence to the Mediterranean diet. In other words, when economic times are good, both higher and lower socioeconomic groups adhere to the Mediterranean diet equally. When economic times are bad, those in a higher socioeconomic bracket tend to stick to the Mediterranean diet, while those in lower socioeconomic brackets tend to break from the Mediterranean diet and shift to something that is cheaper in price (and often quality).

Source:

Bonaccio, M., Di Castelnuovo, A., Bonanni, A., Costanzo, S., De Lucia, F., Pershichillo, M., Zito, F., Donati, M.B., de Gaetano, G., and Iacoviello, L. 2014. Decline of the Mediterranean diet at a time of economic crisis. Results from the Moli-sani study. Nutrition, Metabolism & Cardiovascular Diseases 24: 853-860.