Mediterranean diet scoring systems: understanding the evolution and applications for Mediterranean and non-Mediterranean countries

Br J Nutr. 2022 Oct 14;128(7):1371-1392. doi: 10.1017/S0007114521002476. Epub 2021 Jul 22.


The Mediterranean diet (MedD) is a flexible dietary pattern which has such variability that has led to inconsistencies in definitions and assessment. The purpose of this narrative review is to evaluate scoring systems in a cultural and geographic context, from Mediterranean and non-Mediterranean countries, for comparison and application. The early MedD scoring systems (i.e. Trichopoulou's MedD Scale (T-MDS) and alternative MedD Scale (aMed)) are widely applied throughout the world but use population-specific median cut-offs which limit interpretation and cross-study comparisons. The T-MDS and aMed also do not account for non-traditional MedD foods which are consumed in greater quantities than when the scoring systems were developed. Scoring systems developed after the MedD pyramid publication in 2011 have generally used these recommendations as a basis for food group intake cut-offs, incorporating more foods/food groups as negative components, and some have included dietary and lifestyle behaviours. The different approaches to MedD assessment have created much variability in the foods/food group components included in scoring systems. Assessments that include dietary and lifestyle behaviours may reflect the nutrition transition occurring in Mediterranean countries and better guide clinical intervention approaches. While the new scoring systems are theorised to better capture MedD adherence and behaviours, comparisons are sparse in the literature and none exists outside of Europe. Consensus on food and dietary behaviours to include as well as the methodology for assigning points in MedD scoring systems is needed to advance our understanding of MedD and health relationships to promote public health messaging and clinical application.

Keywords: Dietary assessment; Dietary pattern scoring systems; Mediterranean diet; Mediterranean lifestyle.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Diet, Mediterranean*
  • Europe
  • Food
  • Life Style
  • Nutritional Status