`Not Such a Mediterranean Diet for College Students in Spain

Food & Cooking

Not Such a Mediterranean Diet for College Students in Spain

Oct. 22, 2014
Sukhsatej Batra

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UCLM Albacete

Just as the Mediter­ranean diet is gain­ing momen­tum around the world as a model for pre­ven­tion of heart dis­ease, dia­betes, and a host of other health prob­lems, a recent study finds that most Span­ish uni­ver­sity stu­dents are mov­ing away from it.

The study, pub­lished in the jour­nal Appetite,” sur­veyed the dietary habits of 160 women and 124 men enrolled in the Albacete cam­pus of the Uni­ver­sity of Castilla-La Man­cha in Spain.

The 284 stu­dents, whose aver­age age was 21 years, were vol­un­teer par­tic­i­pants of the study and pro­vided dietary infor­ma­tion for two non­con­sec­u­tive days using the 24-hour dietary recall method. Researchers used the Mediter­ranean Diet Score and Healthy Eat­ing Index to assess the qual­ity of the diets con­sumed by the sub­jects.

Based on the Mediter­ranean diet scor­ing sys­tem, the authors of study found that only 5.3 per­cent, or 15 stu­dents, had a high adher­ence to the Mediter­ranean diet.

Unlike the tra­di­tional Mediter­ranean diet that is high in veg­eta­bles, fruit, beans, whole grains, whole grains, nuts, olives and olive oil, some fish, poul­try, eggs, cheese, yogurt and wine, most of the sub­jects con­sumed a diet rich in meat and dairy but low in fruits and veg­eta­bles. Their intake of pro­tein, car­bo­hy­drates, sat­u­rated fats and cho­les­terol was higher, while intake of fiber was lower than rec­om­mended amounts.

The sub­jects scored worse on their Healthy Eat­ing Index – with only 3.9 per­cent obtain­ing scores that fell within the good” range, indi­cat­ing that 96.1 per­cent of the stu­dent pop­u­la­tion stud­ied need to improve the qual­ity of their diet.


Although the body mass index (BMI) of the sub­jects fell within the nor­mal range, the high intake of meat, sugar, and sat­u­rated fat, com­bined with low phys­i­cal activ­ity reported by 70 per­cent of the stu­dent pop­u­la­tion stud­ied, may put them at risk of devel­op­ing insulin resis­tance, type 2 dia­betes and car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease.

Unfor­tu­nately, the trend of devi­at­ing from the tra­di­tional Mediter­ranean diet is not lim­ited to young adults of Spain and, in fact, may be start­ing at a younger age. A recent study con­ducted on 565 Ital­ian ado­les­cents aged 12 to 19 years found that only 14 per­cent had scores that indi­cated a high adher­ence to the Mediter­ranean diet. Those with a high adher­ence also had a higher intake of most major nutri­ents such as fiber, iron, monoun­sat­u­rated fats and Vit­a­mins A, D, C, B6, and folic acid.

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