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J Nutr. 2012 Oct;142(10):1843-50. Epub 2012 Aug 8.

Adherence to the Mediterranean diet pattern has declined in Spanish adults.

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  • 1CIBER of Epidemiology and Public Health, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid/IdiPaz, Madrid, Spain.


This work examined the Spanish population's degree of accordance with the Mediterranean diet (MD). This was a cross-sectional study conducted in 2008-2010 among 11,742 individuals representative of the Spanish population aged ≥ 18 y. Habitual food consumption was assessed with a computerized diet history. Accordance of food consumption with the MD was assessed with the MD Adherence Screener (MEDAS) score using the cutoffs ≥ 9 to define strict accordance and ≥ 7 (mid-range value) for modest accordance. Accordance of nutrient intake with the MD was defined as ≥ 4.5 points (mid-range value) on the high-unsaturated fat OmniHeart diet score. The diet of 12% (95% CI: 11.3-12.7%) of the Spanish population reached MEDAS-based strict accordance with the MD and 46% (95% CI: 44.7-47.7) attained modest accordance. Moreover, 39.0% (95%: 37.8-40.1%) of the population achieved OnmiHeart-based MD accordance. Factor analysis identified 2 main dietary patterns. The first one was called "Westernized" and was rich in red and processed meat, French fries, refined cereals, and sweetened beverages and poor in fresh fruit; the second pattern was named "Mediterranean" and was rich in olive oil and plant-based foods. Regardless of how it was defined, MD accordance was less frequent and the Westernized pattern was more frequent among the younger, the less educated, current smokers, and those less physically active and more sedentary. In conclusion, the Spanish population is drifting away from the MD to adopt a less healthy diet, typical of Western countries. The departure from the MD mostly affects the socially disadvantaged and clusters with other unhealthy lifestyles, which may have synergistic undesirable effects on health.

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