40% of region’s children are obese – countries in the Mediterranean region—thought to have one of the healthiest diets in the world—now have the highest rates of childhood obesity in Europe, according to data presented last week. “There is no Mediterranean diet anymore,” João Breda, the World Health Organization’s program manager for nutrition, told health officials at the European Congress on Obesity. “The Mediterranean diet is gone, and we need to recover it.”
The observations came from the Childhood Obesity Surveillance Initiative, a 10-year study analyzing height, weight and eating habits of children in more than 30 countries. Six Mediterranean countries ranked among the top 10 in overweight/obesity rates among children ages 5 to 9, with Italy (42 percent), Greece (41 percent) and Malta (39.9 percent) topping the list. More than 36 percent of children in Spain and Cyprus were also found to be overweight.
Lightbulb Moment: This is not the first time this alarm bell has been rung. While clinical research aligns the Mediterranean diet with overall better health, it rings hollow as natives from the region abandon the diet and others don’t have a clear definition of what the diet is. There are several interpretations of the diet as “the Mediterranean” is a region, not a country. So, a Turkish diet is different from a Greek diet, and on and on. You see the problem. Clarify what part of the Mediterranean your product speaks to or risk getting lost in the fog of indistinct messaging.