At least 30 percent of people in 12 U.S. states were obese in 2010, an increase of three states from a year earlier, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. No state reported that less than 20 percent of adults were obese, the CDC said today in a statement. That means no state met the national Healthy People 2010 goal to lower the prevalence to 15 percent.The United States is accredited as the country with the highest obesity rates, but the obesity trend is occurring in many Mediterranean countries around the world.
What is happening to the healthy Mediterranean Diet? Surprisingly the last place in the world that one would expect the obesity problem to happen would be in the alleged birthplace of the Mediterranean diet, a small seaside town in Italy called Pioppi. The problem is that the younger population, particularly adolescents are abandoning their traditional diet because they are trying to “imitate the U.S. diet” or as some people call it “an industrial global diet”.
In 1940’s , Ancel Keys, a physiologist from Minnesota first studied this population in Italy as well as the poor population in Crete to study the diet of the people of this region due to their low rates of heart disease compared to northern Europe and America. He followed the diet himself, which may have helped him live to be 101 years old.
Italy now tips the scales to reflect an overweight/obesity rate of possibly 36% in the age group from 12-16 years old. Spain and Greece are also abandoning their traditional diets and are seeing the same trends.
“The original Mediterranean diet was a diet of the poor and not a choice”, says Zachary Nowak, a food historian from the Umbra Institute in Perugia, a province in central Italy. People were forced to eat the Mediterranean way because there was not enough money to buy meat in 1948. If given more money, people will add meat to their diet – this is happening in Greece – people are eating roughly four times more meat than they ate in the 1950’s. Industrial food and fast foods often satisfy the desire for more meat, fat, and sugar without the added costs attributed to more meat consumption.
Dr. Walter Willett of the Harvard School of Public Health who has promoted the healthy Mediterranean diet says: “Children are the object of a huge amount of research on how to seduce them to eat more foods that are horrible for them and making them fat”. The problem is also that healthy peasant food of the original Mediterranean is presently not cheap – fresh fruits and vegetables, olive oil and fish are very expensive.
Has it come down to the fact that it takes money to eat like a poor peasant from the traditional healthy diet of the Mediterranean? It looks that way.
- Mediterraneans Ditch Their Healthy Diet (abcnews.go.com)