Adherence to the Mediterranean diet by the Greek and Cypriot population: a systematic review

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Abstract

Background: The traditional Mediterranean diet is defined as the dietary pattern in the countries of the Mediterranean basin between the 1950s and 1960s, and it is now widely accepted that has a beneficial effect on health. A debate exists from empirical and research data if the traditional Mediterranean diet remains the main dietary pattern of the region or if it has changed overtime. Aims: This systematic review addresses whether the people of Cyprus and Greece still follow the traditional Mediterranean diet or whether the diet has become more ‘Westernised’. Methods: The MEDLINE database was searched using relevant free terms and independently reviewed by two authors. In addition, all reference lists of identified studies were hand-searched to identify additional, relevant studies. Results: The review resulted in 18 research papers that met the inclusion and exclusion criteria and represented 15 independent studies. The main outcome was consistent between studies and indicated moderate adherence of the Greek, and (probably) of the Cypriot, population to the Mediterranean diet. The majority of studies found no statistically significant differences by gender. There was an observed inter-study lower adherence to the Mediterranean diet by the younger population. Few studies addressed intra-study variations by age. Conclusions: This review shows that adherence to the Mediterranean diet is moderate in Greece (and probably also in Cyprus).This suggests a continuing transition from dietary patterns in the 50 s–60 s towards a more Westernized diet.

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