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The Mythological Mediterranean Diet

Updated: Jul 27

The Mediterranean diet does not even exist in the Mediterranean anymore and hasn't in several decades. The reason is, they adapted our Western diet and sedentary lifestyle and as a result, their rates of obesity, diabetes and heart disease are rising rapidly. A study published just yesterday confirms this.

The study looked at over 2,000 adults in Spain, aged 18 to 80 with equal amounts of males and females. Over 60 per cent of the subjects were overweight or obese and 77 per cent did not meet the minimum recommendations for exercise. Around 33 per cent had high blood pressure, 65 per cent had high cholesterol levels and about 30 per cent had three or more cardiovascular risk factors that could be modified by changes to their lifestyle or diet.

In regard to the study, Dr Ricardo Gómez-Huelgas from the Internal Medicine Department at Hospital Carlos Haya, Malaga said, "The prevalence of obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol in Spain have all risen at an alarming rate over the last 20 years and this is likely to cause future increases in bad health and death due to cardiovascular disease.”

Dr Anthony Wierzbicki, a London-based Consultant in Metabolic Medicine said, "The myth that the Mediterranean diet and lifestyle is so healthy is based on 40-year old data from rural areas and so much has changed during those four decades."

In addition, in 2009, in an article on dietary fat that was published in the Journal of Clinical Lipidology, Dr Virgil Brown, MD, who is the Editor–in–Chief of The Journal of Clinical Lipidology and the Charles Howard Candler Professor of Internal Medicine at Emory University School of Medicine said in regard to the way the Mediterranean diet and olive oil have been promoted in the USA, "I’m afraid that this has become a great hoax applied to the American diet and that we have not paid as much attention to the data as we should have in order to make a better decision about the content of fat in our diet."

We need to move beyond the cultural myths of the Mediterranean diet and the misguided marketing and advertising of olive oil as a health food, to a truly healthy lifestyle and eating pattern that is simple, easy and based on sound science.

In Health Jeff Novick, MS, RD

Prevalence of cardiovascular risk factors in an urban adult population from southern Spain. IMAP Study. International Journal of Clinical Practice, 65: 35-40. (2011) doi:10.1111/j.1742-1241.2010.02543.x


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