Factors associated with low adherence to a Mediterranean diet in healthy children in northern Spain

Appetite. 2014 Sep:80:28-34. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2014.04.027. Epub 2014 May 2.


There is a tendency in Mediterranean countries to abandon the characteristic Mediterranean diet. This is especially apparent within younger populations. This could have negative consequences for health such as, cardiovascular diseases, obesity or metabolic syndrome. The aim of this study was to describe adherence to the Mediterranean diet within a population of school children and to examine the influence of different socio-demographic factors and lifestyle habits. The study was conducted on a representative sample of 321 school children aged 11-12 years from 31 schools in the city of Logroño (La Rioja). Socio-demographic variables, anthropometric variables, blood pressure, level of development, aerobic fitness, lifestyle, physical activity habits and adherence to the Mediterranean diet were recorded. High adherence to the Mediterranean diet was reported by 46.7% of school children, with low adherence being reported by 4.7% of them. Children attending state schools, immigrants and families from low-to-medium socio-economic strata reported significantly lower adherence to the Mediterranean diet (p = .039), but the results did not reveal any significant differences in terms of body composition. Correlations were found between adherence to the Mediterranean diet and other lifestyle habits, especially level of physical activity (r = .38) and screen time (r = -.18). Adherence to a Mediterranean diet differs according to the type of school attended by children, and the child's nationality and socio-economic status. Children who attended state schools, immigrants and those from families with a medium-to-low socio-economic status were less likely to follow healthy diets.

Keywords: Child; Demographic indicators; Habits; Mediterranean diet.

MeSH terms

  • Body Composition
  • Body Mass Index
  • Child
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diet, Mediterranean*
  • Female
  • Healthy Volunteers
  • Humans
  • Life Style
  • Linear Models
  • Male
  • Motor Activity
  • Obesity / epidemiology
  • Patient Compliance*
  • Sex Factors
  • Socioeconomic Factors*
  • Spain / epidemiology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires