[Eating behaviours of italian adults: results of the Osservatorio epidemiologico cardiovascolare/Health Examination Survey]

Epidemiol Prev. Sep-Dec 2015;39(5-6):373-9.
[Article in Italian]


Objectives: to describe eating behaviours of the Italian adult population collected by the Osservatorio Epidemiologico Cardiovascolare/Health Examination Survey during 2008- 2012.

Design: cross-sectional survey conducted in all Italian regions; random samples of the general population, stratified by age and sex, in 23 municipalities, 220 persons every 1.5 million people.

Setting and participants: 9,111 persons examined, aged 25-79 years; participation rate of 53%; data of 8,462 persons were used in this analysis.

Main outcome measures: lifestyles, risk factors, and high risk conditions were measured. Eating behaviours were assessed by the EPIC questionnaire, which includes principal foods, portions, and eating patterns; principal health eating behaviours and nutrients were described by macroareas; sodium and potassium intake were measured also by 24h urine collection; data were compared to the Mediterranean model described in the Sixties nutritional survey carried out in Nicotera, a municipality of Calabria Region, Southern Italy.

Results: the eating behaviours are healthy only in a part of the population: 30% have adequate intake of vegetables and fish; only 10% use cakes/sweets/desserts once a week as recommended. Energy intake from saturated fat and sugars are high. Compared to the Sixties Mediterranean model, consumption of cereals, potatoes, and legumes are reduced by half, while meats, cheeses, milk, and in particular sweets are more than doubled.

Conclusions: taking into account the distribution of risk factors and high risk conditions as overweight/obesity, which affects almost 75% of the adult population, physical inactivity (30-40%), hypertension (50%), hypercholesterolemia (35%), and diabetes (7-11%), community actions for improving diet in the population are urgent. Education of the population is also needed to reduce portions and salt intake, and to use less olive oil and wine given their high caloric values, as recommended by the modern Mediterranean diet.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Body Mass Index
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diabetes Mellitus / epidemiology
  • Diabetes Mellitus / prevention & control
  • Diet, Mediterranean / statistics & numerical data*
  • Energy Intake*
  • Exercise
  • Feeding Behavior*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypercholesterolemia / epidemiology
  • Hypercholesterolemia / prevention & control
  • Hypertension / epidemiology
  • Hypertension / prevention & control
  • Italy / epidemiology
  • Life Style*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nutrition Surveys
  • Obesity / epidemiology*
  • Obesity / prevention & control*
  • Patient Education as Topic
  • Risk Factors