Blog | Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Italians not following the 'Mediterranean diet'

For years I have touted the health benefits of the "Mediterranean Diet" and encouraged patients to eat like the Europeans. Fresh farm vegetables, olive oil, fish and red wine have been linked with longevity and good health. I just read in NPR news that young Italians are forgoing the eating patterns of their elders and are imitating the "U.S. diet." The result is soaring obesity, just like in the United States.

Mediterranean diet (close up) by grobery via Flickr and a Creative Commons licenseAccording the article, young Italians ages 6-12 are sitting in front of the TV and are eating fast foods and soda. In just three generations, the eating habits and activity of kids has changed from their healthy grandparents. Italian health officials say obesity is reaching epidemic proportions.

Part of the diet changes are a result of the global industrial diet of meat, fat and sugar. These cheap foods are in abundance and actually make "Mediterranean" food look expensive. Fish, olive oil, fresh vegetables and fresh fruit are more expensive than a McDonald's hamburger. A 16 oz. coke can be bought for a dollar in the U.S. (about $.71 euro). I haven't seen an Italian supermarket lately but in the U.S. you can always find huge containers of soft drinks on sale.

I find these changes rather sad to read about. We can only hope that parents, educators and even our governments will start putting resources into education, quit subsidizing the corn industry and try to turn these bad eating habits around.

This post originally appeared at Everything Health. Toni Brayer, FACP, is an ACP Internist editorial board member who blogs at EverythingHealth, designed to address the rapid changes in science, medicine, health and healing in the 21st Century.