Moving from a
British Food Journal,
Vol. 101 No. 9, 1999, pp. 701-714.
# MCB University Press, 0007-070X
Moving away from a typical
Mediterranean diet: the case
Azucena Gracia and Luis Miguel Albisu
Unidad de EconomõÂa Agraria, Servicio de InvestigacioÂn
Agroalimentaria (DGA), Zaragoza, Spain
Keywords Food, Consumption, Spain, Mediterranean diet
Abstract In the 1960s, the Spanish diet was a typical example of the Mediterranean diet.
However, in the 1990s, Spanish consumers have moved away from that pattern. This has been
the result of many different changes over that period of time. It is important to know how a
Mediterranean country moves from a considered healthy diet to another which is not so and the
reasons behind that change. There might be a number of policy implications to reinforce food
consumption habits which are not properly taken into consideration when a country goes through
economic development. Nowadays, public institutions in Spain are concerned about changing
diets. They provide information and encourage the appropriate education to achieve those aims.
Among other things, they try to promote typical regional products of high quality as well as to
avoid unhealthy food habits, by providing nutritional educational programmes at schools, jointly
with other policies.
The Mediterranean diet attracts great attention all over the world as one of
the healthiest. This diet has been related to lower cancer and cardiovascular
diseases because it provides some ingredients which prevent those diseases.
However, a precise description of the Mediterranean diet is difficult to
achieve but a definition can be found in Ferro-Luzzi and Sette (1989). They
defined the Mediterranean diet as high in cereals (more than 60 per cent of
total energy, excluding alcohol), low in total fats (less than 30 per cent), with
moderate amounts of added fats, predominantly olive oil which represent
more than 70 per cent of total lipids, and relatively rich in a variety of fruits
and vegetables, which provide at least half of the total amount of dietary
fibre (30 g/day).
It has been observed that the Spanish diet has been moving away from the
benefits of the Mediterranean diet and changing towards a northern one. In
particular, cereals and pulses consumption has been decreasing which means
that carbohydrates and fibre intake on one hand, and proteins on the other,
have been reduced. Moreover, meat consumption has increased dramatically
and, consequently, the intake of saturated fat has reached high figures. Fruit
and vegetables consumption has remained constant and it is still considerably
Several previous works have analysed the evolution of Spanish food
consumption. Furitsch (1991) stated that the increasing Spanish purchasing
power allows consumers to buy greater amounts of meat, dairy and processed
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