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According to an Italian online cross-sectional study with more than 27,00 participants that began in April 2015, Italian participants poorly adhered to the Mediterranean diet recommendations during a 18-month follow-up period on nutritional habits and lifestyle. Lower than recommended intakes of all food categories included in the Mediterranean diet pyramid were observed, along with an excess of sweets, red and processed meat consumption, suggest that human health may be affected in the long term. Low adherence to recommendations were observed particularly among females and elderly people.
Another cross-sectional web-survey, carried out among 340 university staff employees (24-67 years old) within Southern Italy, concluded adherence to the Mediterranean diet resulted significantly lower in younger participants with respect to the older group (>45 years old). Using an online questionnaire based on a validated 14-point Mediterranean Diet Adherence Screener (MEDAS), the mean score was 7.34 for the total population independently of sex. Findings underscore the need to develop healthy education programs for the prevention of chronic non-communicable diseases.
A systematic review concluded from observational cohort studies that diet can reduce the risk of disease with regard to its impact on telomeres. Telomere length (TL) is highly correlated to chronological age and metabolic status. Individuals with shorter telomeres are at higher risk of chronic diseases and mortality. Diet may influence TL by several mechanisms such as regulating oxidative stress and inflammation or modulating epigenetic reactions. The study suggests that some antioxidant nutrients, the consumption of fruits and vegetables, and the Mediterranean diet are primarily associated with longer telomeres.