Short-term Exposure to a Mediterranean Environment Influences Attitudes and Dietary Profile in U.S. College Students: The MEDiterranean Diet in AMEricans (A-MED-AME) Pilot Study

Katherine Petroka, Monica Dinu, Chelsea Hoover, Alessandro Casini, Francesco Sofi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objective: The aim of this study was to investigate whether short-term exposure to a Mediterranean diet during a structured abroad experience could influence dietary habits and attitudes. Design: This study used a cross-sectional design. Setting: The study was conducted on the Florence University of the Arts (FUA) campus, Italy. Subjects: Fifty-four (47 females, 7 males; mean age 21.1 ± 1.9 years) college students from 12 different states, mainly located in the central United States, were enrolled in this study. Measures of Outcome: Outcome measures included adherence score to Mediterranean diet and self-reported perceptions of diet and food availability. A demographic survey was used to collect data regarding personal characteristics, anthropometrics, duration of stay, and residency status. Analysis: Chi-square test, independent T-test, and Mann-Whitney test were used to perform analyses. Results: At 3 weeks' follow-up, 94% of the population reported that availability of foods affected their food choices. Interestingly, students reported that they consumed less meat with respect to their usual dietary habits in the United States (p <0.0001) and they reported significantly increased the consumption of olive oil, cereals, fruit, and alcohol (p <0.05). The adherence score to a Mediterranean diet significantly increased by about 1 point, going from 9.9 ± 2.4 to 10.9 ± 2.0 (p <0.05). Conclusions: After a 3-week stay in Italy, an increase in the adherence score to a Mediterranean diet was observed. Future research should explore the relationship between length of time spent in a foreign country and dietary adherence in a cultural context.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-6
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of the American College of Nutrition
DOIs
Publication statusAccepted/In press - Jun 20 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics

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