September 28, 2008
Mediterranean Diet Dying Out In Mediterranean

Why have Americans been more overweight than other Westerners? We were ahead of them in a trend. Europeans are porking out. This porking trend has extended down into the part of Europe which has been celebrated for the success of its diet: the Mediterranean. Greeks, Italians, and Spaniards are abandoning the Mediterranean diet with unhealthful consequences.

Small towns like this one in western Crete, considered the birthplace of the famously healthful Mediterranean diet — emphasizing olive oil, fresh produce and fish — are now overflowing with chocolate shops, pizza places, ice cream parlors, soda machines and fast-food joints.

The fact is that the Mediterranean diet, which has been associated with longer life spans and lower rates of heart disease and cancer, is in retreat in its home region. Today it is more likely to be found in the upscale restaurants of London and New York than among the young generation in places like Greece, where two-thirds of children are now overweight and the health effects are mounting, health officials say.

We are not designed to handle the fast food diet. Better that the Greeks return to their traditional dishes. Greece now has the worst obesity rate in Europe. Wow.

This spring, a majority of children who were tested at the elementary school of this sleepy port town of 3,000, also known as Kissamos, were found to have high cholesterol. “It was the talk of the school,” said Stella Kazazakou, 44. “Instead of grades, the moms were comparing cholesterol levels.”

In Greece, three-quarters of the adult population is overweight or obese, the worst rate in Europe “by far,” according to the United Nations. The rates of overweight 12-year-old boys rose more than 200 percent from 1982 to 2002 and have been rising even faster since.

Italy and Spain are not far behind, with more than 50 percent of adults overweight. That compares with about 45 percent in France and the Netherlands.

Fresh produce and olive oil can't compete with hamburgers and fries. We need to either genetically engineer ourselves to dislike junk food or we need to genetically engineer our metabolisms to handle junk food without harmful effects.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2008 September 28 07:36 PM  Aging Diet Studies


Comments
JBS said at September 28, 2008 9:20 PM:

"Fresh produce and olive oil can't compete with hamburgers and fries. We need to either genetically engineer ourselves to dislike junk food or we need to genetically engineer our metabolisms to handle junk food without harmful effects."

It would be far easier to just create low carb bread, potatoes, or reduce carbs in any other carb loaded food than change our metabolism.

TTT said at September 29, 2008 3:26 PM:

"We need to either genetically engineer ourselves to dislike junk food or we need to genetically engineer our metabolisms to handle junk food without harmful effects."

A horribly dumb idea.

Why not *gasp* simply have a shred of self-discipline?

I have a very good diet, and I know Randall does too. It is a question of discipline, nothing more. Legislation and genetic engineering should not be the path to solve the problem.

Randall Parker said at September 29, 2008 6:45 PM:

TTT,

Most people won't eat a good diet unless it tastes good. How many people eat 5 to 10 servings of fruits and vegetables per day? I do. But I'm a statistical outlier. I figure most people know they ought to eat more veggies. But veggies don't taste good.

My advice for those who want to eat better: Take a bunch of bags of cranberries and put them in your office and keep them on the fridge. Keep lots of apple sauce around too. Also, onions are a vegetable sort of condiment. If you like them then use them.

lykos said at September 29, 2008 9:24 PM:

"Dr. Trichopoulou said that some older people might have been tolerant of childhood chubbiness because Greece had for so long been a poor nation where hunger was a recurrent problem."

They still are. And many think what is bad for them (meat, salt, sugar) is necessary for their children. Greeks are overprotective parents.

samson said at October 6, 2008 1:17 PM:

how about the simple solution of heavily taxing junk food?

Robert Mayer said at October 25, 2008 7:46 AM:

note! It says overweight, not obese. If you actually go to one of these countries you won't see nearly as many OBESE people as you would in America or England.

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