a1 Department of Medicine, Monash Medical Center, Clayton, Melbourne, Victoria 3168, Australia
a2 National Centre for Nutrition, National School of Public Health, Leoforos Alexandras 196, Athens 115–21, Greece
a3 Department of Epidemiology, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA 02115, USA
A prospective cohort study, involving 141 Anglo-Celts and 189 Greek-Australians of both sexes aged 70 years or more, was undertaken in Melbourne, Australia. The objective was to evaluate whether adherence to the principles of the Mediterranean diet affects survival of elderly people in developed non-Mediterranean countries. Diet was assessed using an extensive validated questionnaire on food intake. A one unit increase in a diet score, devised a priori on the basis of eight key features of the traditional common diet in the Mediterranean region, was associated with a 17 % reduction in overall mortality (two-tailed P value 0·07). Mortality reduction with increasing diet score was at least as evident among Anglo-Celts as among Greek-Australians. We conclude that a diet that adheres to the principles of the traditional Mediterranean diet is associated with longer survival among Australians of either Greek or Anglo-Celtic origin.
(Received July 23 1998)
(Revised February 05 1999)
(Accepted March 01 1999)