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Cretan diet as a lifestyle

When we refer to the Cretan diet of 1960 we should take into consideration that the diet in question was applied under specific social conditions and constituted an inextricable part of a general lifestyle. Apart from the specific choice of food, there were probably numerous other factors which contributed to the beneficiary effects of this diet to human health.

Physical activity

ksp_302 One of these factors is physical activity, as in the study of Seven Countries it has been demonstrated that 62% of men from Crete underwent intense daily physical activity, whereas only 7% of them had a sedentary life or mild types of activity. Intense physical activity, which was connected with necessary movements as well as with the type of work, seems to have contributed to the lower rates of body fat of men in Crete as compared to other populations. (Aravanis et al. 1970). Thus, the combination of Cretan diet with regular physical activity made the preservation of a healthy body weight possible.

Stability in the schedule of meals

ksp_303 But apart from exercise, another important parameter of the Cretan lifestyle -as well as that of other Mediterranean populations- has been the stability in the schedule of meals (Bellisle 2008). Steady meals at specific times of day appear to help the human organism to regulate the ingestion of food more effectively, in such a way that energy requirements are met, without, however, involving an over-consumption of food (Bellisle et al. 1997;de Castro 2007).

Meals, a chance for family gathering

ksp_304 Finally, it is significant that meals constituted an occasion for family gatherings, as well as for broader social interactions, and were regarded as a pleasant social experience (Bellisle 2008). This is particularly important if we take into account that nowadays a large percentage of people have lunch or dinner in front of the TV –a habit which is related to the over-consumption of food, not only in adults but also in children (Bellisle et al. 2004;Stroebele et al. 2004;Francis & Birch 2006;Wiecha et al. 2006). In the case of children, it has been suggested that watching TV during meals is one of the main factors contributing to the epidemic of child obesity (Gortmaker et al. 1996).


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    * Bellisle F. Infrequently asked questions about the Mediterranean diet. Public Health Nutr. 2009;12(9A):1644-7.
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    * Stroebele N & de Castro JM. Television viewing is associated with an increase in meal frequency in humans. Appetite 2004;24: 111–113.
    * Wiecha JL, Peterson KE, Ludwig DS, Kim J, Sobol A & Gormaker SL. When children eat what they watch: impact of television viewing on dietary intake in youth. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med 2006;160:436–442.