The Mediterranean Diet: Socio-cultural Relevance for Contemporary Health Promotion

Surinder Phull, * Open Modal Authors Info & Affiliations
The Open Public Health Journal 26 June 2015 RESEARCH ARTICLE DOI: 10.2174/1874944501508010035


In biomedical literature, The Mediterranean Diet describes a healthy eating model, based on epidemiological findings on the predominant eating practices in Crete and Southern Italy in the 1960s. At the time, the level of life expectancy in this region was amongst the highest worldwide and rates of cardiovascular disease were amongst the lowest. Medical research has since given increasing attention to this dietary pattern and its potential health benefits. The various components of The Mediterranean Diet are fast becoming a paradigm for healthier lifestyles as well as potential model for weight loss. In 2010 UNESCO recognised The Mediterranean Diet as an intangible cultural heritage of Italy, Spain, Greece and Morocco and the diet has moved away from a uniquely biomedical model to a cultural representation. This has led to increased recognition of the importance of social and cultural context in the dietary model, particularly the idea of conviviality, the pleasure of shared meals. It has also brought to light the debate over the cultural legitimacy of The Mediterranean Diet and its ability to represent the cultural diversity of the region. This literature review consolidates interdisciplinary perspectives on the cultural context of the Mediterranean Diet. A literature search was conducted using both biomedical and social science databases to reflect the interdisciplinary nature of the article. This review explores the relevance of the dietary model as global public health tool as well as examining the role of pleasurable eating in health promotion.

Keywords: Food culture, Mediterranean diet, public health nutrition.
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