Are 6-8 year old Italian children moving away from the Mediterranean diet?

Claudia Zani, E. Ceretti, S. Grioni, G. C V Viola, F. Donato, D. Feretti, A. Festa, S. Bonizzoni, A. Bonetti, S. Monarca, M. Villarini, S. Levorato, A. Carducci, M. Verani, B. Casini, A. De Donno, T. Grassi, F. Bagordo, E. Carraro, Si BonettaSa Bonetta, U. Gelatti, L. Covolo, R. Levaggi, R. M. Limina, G. Mazzoleni, I. Zerbini, C. Furia, P. Colombi, F. Braga, C. Fatigoni, M. Moretti, S. Vannini, B. Bruni, E. Caponi, G. Donzelli, A. Idolo, M. Guido, G. Devoti, M. R. Tumolo, F. Serio, V. Romanazzi, C. Pignata, T. Schilirò, G. Gilli, MAPEC-LIFE Study Group

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background. The Mediterranean diet (MD) is considered one of the healthiest dietary models, as it decreases the risk of chronic diseases and may modulate the organism's early response to environmental pollution. In recent decades, Mediterranean countries have been replacing their traditional diet with other less healthy eating habits, especially among children and teenagers. Objective. The aim of this study was to evaluate the MD and the level of adherence to it in 6-8 year old Italian children, in relation to residence, lifestyle, and social and family contexts. Methods. A questionnaire was administered to the children's parents in two seasons in 5 Italian towns. The diet section contained 116 questions investigating the frequency of consumption of different types of food. The Italian Mediterranean Index (IMI) was calculated according to the intake of 6 typical Mediterranean and 4 non-Mediterranean foods. On the basis of IMI score, MD adherence was classified as low (≤3 IMI score), medium (4-5) and high (≥6). Total energy load and diet composition in micro- and macronutrients were calculated from consumption frequency. Results. Diet analysis was computed on 1164 subjects with two complete questionnaires. Body mass index, calculated for each subject, showed that 28.9% of the children were overweight, the figure varying slightly with area of residence. Our findings showed that 59.0% of the children had a low score for MD adherence. Conclusions. The results of this study showed that most Italian children did not follow the MD and socioeconomic characteristics appeared not to be associated with type of diet.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)339-348
Number of pages10
JournalAnnali di igiene : medicina preventiva e di comunita
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Food-frequency questionnaire
  • Italian mediterranean index
  • Mediterranean diet

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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