Mediterranean Diet More Costly to Follow Than Western

Study also finds risk of weight gain is greater for those who have higher daily food costs
By Jeff Muise
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, Sept. 18 (HealthDay News) -- Spanish university graduates who tended to follow a Mediterranean diet spent more money for their food than those following a western diet, according to a study published online Sept. 17 in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

Celeste N. Lopez, of the Harvard Medical School in Boston, and colleagues used data from a 136-item food questionnaire to assess the diets of 17,197 Spanish university graduates (at baseline) and 11,195 subjects in follow-up. The researchers identified dietary patterns and calculated average food costs and body weight trends.

The researchers found that subjects fell into two generally recognized dietary patterns: western and Mediterranean. Subjects in the fifth quintile (highest) for the western diet spent $0.80 less per 1,000 kcal on daily food than those in the first quintile (lowest) for the western diet. Inversely, those in the fifth quintile for the Mediterranean diet spent $0.90 more per 1,000 kcal on daily food than those in the first quintile. Subjects of normal weight in the fifth quintile for daily food costs were at higher risk for weight gain (odds ratio, 1.13), compared to those in the first quintile for cost. For overweight subjects, the weight gain risk was higher (odds ratio, 1.30).

"These data suggest that a Mediterranean dietary pattern is more expensive to follow than a western dietary pattern. This economic barrier should be considered when counseling patients about following a healthy diet because cost may be a prohibitive factor," the authors write.

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