Imagine a diet that chooses only to benefit those who have having higher income or are highly educated. It may sound discriminating, but this is the result that the Italian I.R.C.C.S Neuromed shows from its most recent research which involved 18,000 subjects within the Moli-Sani project. The study was mainly on the effectivity of the Mediterranean Diet which is believed to reduce cardiovascular disease. That is, if you are qualified.
The Mediterranean Diet, a kind of traditional diet in Mediterranean countries composed mainly of high consumption of vegetables, olive oil and balanced intake of protein. This diet is getting more and more popular for its cardiovascular benefits.
However, according to the study headed by Giovanni de Gaetano, director of Department of Epidemiology and Prevention, the benefits are noticed only in a specific group of people. Those who belong to the higher class and are highly educated. People who belong to the lower socio-economic positions are not found to display the same health benefits.
The findings astonished the Neuromed researchers on how the status of a person impacts the benefits of the diet. They tried to probe further on what causes the distinction on the health advantages. This was published on the International Journal of Epidemiology.
According to the first author of the study, Marialaura Bonaccio, relates that even the Mediterranean Diet is well known to the general public, their study reveals that the socio-economic position of the person strongly influences the health advantages of the diet.
The experimentation includes subjects from the Moli-Sani project. A project which started in March 2005 with 25,000 citizens living in the Molise Region. Located at the south-central part of Italy where age-old traditions and good food are still considered a treasure.
The Moli-Sani project intends to discover environmental and genetic factors that causes cardiovascular diseases, cancer and degenerative pathologies. Neuromed has now made it into a big research lab and conducts various studies and experimentation in the region.
Head of the Laboratory of nutritional and molecular Epidemiology at the department, Licia Iacoviello said that a person with lower status may struggle to maintain the eating pattern. They have fewer alternatives to choose from. Those people who have the purchasing power are reported to have a larger number of choices to retain high quality diet without difficulty.
People belonging to the upper class have more options on fruit and vegetables such as nuts, legumes, cereals, fish, fats, meat, dairy products and even alcohol. They are more likely to consume products with higher anti-oxidant and polyphenols.
The lifestyle of the subjects proves to contribute to the divergence of the diet. The investigation also shows the socio-economic gradient in the amount of whole grain being taken in. Cooking procedure and preferences is also another factor for the disparity. The considerable difference in the food choices has led researchers to think that quality of food is as important as its quantity and frequency of intake.
“Our results should promote a serious consideration of socioeconomic scenario of health. Socioeconomic disparities in health are growing also in access to healthy diets. During the very last years, we documented a rapid shifting from the Mediterranean diet in the whole population, but it might also be that the weakest citizens tend to buy ‘Mediterranean’ food with lower nutritional value. We cannot be keeping on say that the Mediterranean diet is good for health if we are not able to guarantee an equal access to it” concludes Giovanni de Gaetano.