Date of Award

8-2005

Level of Access

Open-Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Food Science and Human Nutrition

Advisor

Dorothy J. Klimis-Zacas

Second Committee Member

Adrienne White

Third Committee Member

Richard Cook

Abstract

The Mediterranean Diet (MD) is renowned for its health benefits. However, adherence appears to be lessening in the Mediterranean region as rates of overweight, obesity, and chronic disease are increasing. The adoption of a "western diet" (high amounts of meats, refined grains, snacks, and fast-food products) has been termed the "Nutrition Transition". Adolescents appear to be the most affected; therefore their diets and eating patterns were examined in this study. The objectives were to study food group-based consumption of adolescents, compare average servings with recommendations from the USDA Food Guide Pyramid (FGP) and the MD Pyramid, identify and compare eating patterns between sexes, and relate these findings to research from other countries. One hundred thirteen adolescents (mean age of 17.6 * 1.7) participated in the Harokopio Nutritional Assessment Study (HNA). They were required to complete a 3-day food diary (two consecutive week days and one week-end day) as well as a demographic questionnaire from which a food group-based assessment was conducted. Dietary patterns were evaluated at seven time intervals during the day. Males had significantly greater Body Mass Index and significantly lower percentages of body fat than females. Approximately 34.5% of the students ported only light or sedentary exercise habits, 57.5% reported that they did not smoke and 90% reported that they did not consume alcohol. Males consumed significantly greater amounts of grains, vegetables, potatoes, French fries, medium-fat and red meats, dairy products, sweetened beverages, teaspoons of fat, gyros, and pizza. Neither males nor females met the USDA FGP or the MD Pyramid recommendations for fruits or vegetables and females did not meet the three a day recommendation by the USDA FGP for dairy products or the MD Pyramid recommendation for grains. Males greatly exceeded the USDA FGP recommendation for total meat and both males and females exceeded the recommendation for teaspoons of oil. According to the MD Pyramid, neither males nor females met the recommendations for fish or poultry. However, both exceeded the MD recommendation for sweets, potatoes, and red meat. In fact, on a daily basis, males consumed 20 times and females consumed 14 times the recommendation for red meat. For most, the dietary pattern of no breakfast, a mid-day meal (somewhere between 12:00 - 3:59pm) and an evenin2 meal (8:00 - 10:59pn1) was revealed. Males consumed significantly greater amounts of foods in the evening between 1 1 :00 - 2:59am. Smoking had positive correlations with coffee and reported alcohol consumption, and a negative correlation with reported exercise. It is apparent that this population no longer followed the traditional eating patterns of the MD. This study documented a high consumption of meats, refined grains, and fast foods; and a low consumption of fruits and vegetables and low activity levels. This has also been reported in countries undergoing the Nutrition Transition. Adolescent independence in malting food choices makes this period an opportune time for nutrition education to be offered in an effort to prevent the development of nutrition-related diseases later in life.

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