Socioeconomic and psychosocial determinants of adherence to the Mediterranean diet in a general adult Italian population

INHES Study Investigators

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


BACKGROUND: To evaluate the adherence to Mediterranean diet (MD) and its major socioeconomic and psychosocial determinants in a large sample of the Italian population, covering three main geographical areas of the Country (Southern, Central and Northern).

METHODS: Data were obtained from the Italian Nutrition & Health Survey (INHES), including a total of 7, 430 participants (age >20) recruited from all over Italy (2010-13). Dietary information was collected by the European Food Propensity Questionnaire. Adherence to MD was assessed by using the MedDietScore based on 11 food groups. Associations were tested by multivariable logistic regression analysis (Odds ratio [OR] with 95% CI).

RESULTS: Adherence to MD was higher in Southern Italy as compared with the Northern (OR = 1.34; 95% CI 1.18-1.53), and was closely associated with adult age (OR= 2.40; 1.61-3.58 for those aged > 75 years as compared with 20-34 years) and higher educational level (OR = 1.77; 1.40-2.24 for post-secondary education as opposed to lowest educational attainment). Subjects reporting adverse life events and those with family-related stress were less likely to show an optimal adherence to MD (OR = 0.55; 0.46-0.67 and OR = 0.44; 0.28-0.69, for highest vs. lowest tertile, respectively) as compared with adequate controls. A number of eating behaviours were also inversely associated with MD, such as consuming higher amount of alcohol in the weekend than in week days.

CONCLUSIONS: Adherence to MD is strongly determined by age, geographical area and educational level. Psychosocial factors and several eating behaviours are also closely associated.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)328-335
Number of pages8
JournalEuropean Journal of Public Health
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 1 2019


  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Body Mass Index
  • Diet, Mediterranean/psychology
  • Feeding Behavior
  • Female
  • Health Status
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Hyperlipidemias/epidemiology
  • Hypertension/epidemiology
  • Italy/epidemiology
  • Life Change Events
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Residence Characteristics/statistics & numerical data
  • Self Report
  • Sleep
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Stress, Psychological/epidemiology
  • Young Adult

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