Mediterranean Diet Works for the Rich and Educated, Says Study

The study has shown that the decline in cardiovascular risk is seen only in people with higher educational level and/or greater household income

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Mediterranean Diet
Mediterranean Diet. Pixabay

New Delhi, Aug 11, 2017: A recent study conducted by conducted by a team of researchers at the Department of Epidemiology and Prevention led by Giovanni de Gaetano, found out that the Mediterranean diet including vegetables, nuts, fruits and whole grains, in addition to fish and poultry, does not benefit everyone.

The study suggests people with higher incomes or more education, or a blend of the two, encounter the cardiovascular advantages associated with the diet, mentioned ANI report.

The study reveals that benefits are strongly influenced by the socioeconomic position of people.

Alternatively, the study has shown that the decline in cardiovascular risk is seen only in people with higher educational level and/or greater household income. No substantive benefits were observed for the less advantaged groups.

Marialaura Bonaccio, a researcher at the Department of Epidemiology and Prevention and first author of the study says, “The cardiovascular benefits associated with the Mediterranean diet in a general population are well known.”

She further adds, “Yet for the first time our study has revealed that the socioeconomic position is able to modulate the health advantages linked to Mediterranean diet. In other words, a person from low socioeconomic status who struggles to follow a Mediterranean model is unlikely to get the same advantages of a person with higher income, despite the fact that they both similarly adhere to the same healthy diet”.

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Neuromed researchers went further and tried to resolve the possible mechanisms holding such differences.

Licia Iacoviello, head of the Laboratory of nutritional and molecular Epidemiology at the Department explains, “Given a comparable adherence to the Mediterranean diet, the most advantaged groups were more likely to report a larger number of indices of high-quality diet as opposed to people with low socioeconomic status.”

“For example, within those reporting an optimal adherence to the Mediterranean diet (as measured by a score comprising fruits and nuts, vegetables, legumescerealsfishfatsmeat, dairy products and alcohol intake) people with high income or higher educational level consumed products richer in antioxidants and polyphenols, and had a greater diversity in fruit and vegetable choices.” She also stated, “We have also found a socioeconomic gradient in the consumption of whole-grain products and in the preferred cooking methods. These substantial differences in consuming products belonging to Mediterranean diet lead us to think that quality of foods may be as important for health as quantity and frequency of intake”.

Giovanni de Gaetano, director of the Department comments, “Our results should promote a serious consideration of socioeconomic scenario of health.”

Socioeconomic inequalities in health are scaling in accessibility to healthy diets as well. Gaetano concluded, “during the very last years, we documented a rapid shifting from the Mediterranean diet in the whole population, but it might also be that the weakest citizens tend to buy Mediterranean food with lower nutritional value. We cannot be keeping on say that the Mediterranean diet is good for health. if we are not able to guarantee an equal access to it”.