Italian, Spanish and Portuguese migrants are the healthiest eaters regardless of income, according to a study of the 4,000 residents of Lausanne. Among other sections of the population, healthy eating is linked to wealth and educational standards.
The National Research Programme’s “Healthy Nutrition and Sustainable Food Production” study found that younger and single people ate less healthy diets, particularly if they smoked, were overweight or lived sedentary lifestyles.
But the most surprising finding was that the country of origin of the respondent played such a crucial role in diet.
“Despite occupying a relatively low socio-economic level, residents from Italy, Portugal and Spain have retained their Mediterranean dietary habits and eat more healthily than people born in France and Switzerland,” said report author Pedro Marques-Vidal.
People of Mediterranean origin were found to eat much more fruit, vegetables, grains and fish than any other group.
Only those respondents with higher levels of education, which is linked to higher incomes, tended to emulate the Mediterranean diet. Others were more inclined to buy cheaper and less nutritious food.
Another problematic finding was that by tending to eat less cheese than expected, Lausanne residents were denying themselves an important source of calcium.