Not all Mediterranean countries have a Mediterranean diet...
By Niamh Michail
- Last updated on
In 2005 French researchers led by Sophie Tessier used questionnaires to compare not only the dietary intake but also the eating habits and social environment of food among the inhabitants of Sardinia and Malta.
Although both countries are small Mediterranean islands, the researchers found that Malta – an ex-British colony – had completely lost its traditional cuisine while Sardinia had on the whole preserved it.
Use of olive oil in Sardinia was 49% compared with 8% in Malta, while 83% of Maltese visited a fast-food restaurant at least once a week compared with 17% of Sardinians.
The structure of meals also differed. Sardinia had kept the typical Mediterranean eating patterns - breakfast, a substantial lunch (with a starter, main and dessert – usually fruit) and a light dinner with no snacking in between meals. Sardinian families were also more likely to eat together preserving the traditional conviviality of Mediterranean mealtimes.
Maltese meals, on the other hand, were less likely to be a family affair and meal patterns resembled British ones: a greasy breakfast followed by a light lunch and heavy dinner with snacks in between.