Italians, Greeks, and Spaniards are getting heavier, in spite of the fact that their countries are home to the Mediterranean diet, a diet rich in vegetables, legumes, fruits, nuts and healthy fats. Young people in particular are moving toward an “industrial” diet rich in meats, starches, refined carbohydrates, sugars, and other processed and refined foods instead, according to a July 14, 2011 NPR story. The result? In Italy, more than a third of 12- to 16-year olds are overweight or obese. In Greece, people are eating roughly four times more meat than they were in the 1950s. Part of the problem is that the global industrial diet of meat, fat and sugar is cheap, whereas healthy “peasant” food is not, NPR reports.
Commenting on the increase, HSPH nutrition expert Walter Willett—who helped popularize the Mediterranean diet in the U.S. in the early 1990s—said, “There’s no match for the huge marketing efforts and promotion of junk food, and we have to protect our children.”
HSPH Healthy Eating Pyramid (HSPH Nutrition Source)