a1 Nutritional Sciences Program and the Center for Obesity Research, School of Public Health and Community Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195, USA
a2 The Bastyr University Research Center, Bastyr University, Kenmore, WA, USA
Objective To test the viability of the Mediterranean diet as an affordable low-energy-density model for dietary change.
Design Foods characteristic of the Mediterranean diet were identified using previously published criteria. For these foods, energy density (kJ/100 g) and nutrient density in relation to both energy ($/MJ) and nutrient cost were examined.
Results Some nutrient-rich low-energy-density foods associated with the Mediterranean diet were expensive, however, others that also fit within the Mediterranean dietary pattern were not.
Conclusions The Mediterranean diet provides a socially acceptable framework for the inclusion of grains, pulses, legumes, nuts, vegetables and both fresh and dried fruit into a nutrient-rich everyday diet. The precise balance between good nutrition, affordability and acceptable social norms is an area that deserves further study. The new Mediterranean diet can be a valuable tool in helping to stem the global obesity epidemic.
(Received July 2008)
(Accepted April 2009)