Adherence to the Mediterranean Diet and its association with sustainable dietary behaviors, sociodemographic factors, and lifestyle: a cross-sectional study in US University students

Cinzia Franchini, Beatrice Biasini, Giovanni Sogari, Rungsaran Wongprawmas, Giulia Andreani, Irina Dolgopolova, Miguel I. Gómez, Jutta Roosen, Davide Menozzi, Cristina Mora, Francesca Scazzina, Alice Rosi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Promoting healthy and sustainable diets is increasingly important and the Mediterranean Diet (MD) has been recognized as an appropriate example that can be adapted to different countries. Considering that the college years are the time when US young adults are most likely to adopt unhealthy eating habits, the present study assessed adherence to the MD and the sustainability of dietary behaviors in a nationally representative sample of US university students, aiming to identify crucial levers for improving their eating behaviors. Methods: MD adherence and the adoption of healthy and sustainable dietary patterns were assessed through the KIDMED and the Sustainable-HEalthy-Diet (SHED Index questionnaires, respectively, administered through an online survey that also included sociodemographic and behavioral questions. Non-parametric and logistic regression analyses were performed. Results: A sample of 1485 participants (median (IQR) age 21.0 (19.0–22.0); 59% women) correctly completed the survey. A medium adherence to the MD was the most prevalent (47%). According to multivariate logistic regression analysis, the likelihood of being more compliant with the MD increased when meeting physical activity recommendations, having a high SHED Index score, having the willingness to purchase and eat healthy and sustainable dishes, eating ultra-processed plant-based meat alternatives foods daily, and regularly attending the university canteen. Conclusions: Encouraging dietary patterns rich in plant-based foods and with a moderate intake of animal products is crucial to increasing the adoption of healthy and sustainable diets, and university dining services represent a suitable setting to build a supportive environment that educates students on human and planetary health.

Original languageEnglish
Article number56
JournalNutrition Journal
Volume23
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2024

Keywords

  • College students
  • Food behavior
  • Healthy eating
  • Survey
  • Sustainable diet
  • Young adults

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