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Society changes and so do us: Decline of Mediterranean diet and need of education to prevent and treat childhood obesity


Independent Researcher, Trieste, Italy


The increase in the incidence of childhood obesity has become a global health problem, involving medical, social and psychological aspects.

The growth in cases of overweight children was initially due to a change in society in terms of economic well-being and greater availability of resources, leading to the idea of food as a consumer product. In this context also the child is targeted by advertisements that emphasize the strictly voluptuous aspect of food.

All this in the Mediterranean countries, that in Europe have the highest rate of childhood obesity, may have been exacerbated by the decline of the Mediterranean diet, with the progressive loss of eating habits that reflect a culture that no longer exists.

In this context, food education, avoiding falling into excessive prohibition, serves as a compass for new generations and their families in the modern society of food abundance.

Once upon a time there was a world in which people ate what nature offered according to the seasons, in which food was needed to survive and sometimes there were periods in which they did not know what to eat because there was nothing and they died of hunger. The inhabitants of the countryside were more than those of the cities and the foodstuffs were mostly homemade. In this world people often sat at the table all together and the children learned to eat by imitating the family. 

The younger ones watched only a little television and there were no advertisements for food products, let alone addressing them. 

Today’s society, for better or worse, has changed profoundly since then. What is certain is that to date, at least in Western countries, there has been a change in social organization and daily habits, also due to an increase in urbanization, which is inevitably reflected in food routine. People eat often out, food is increasingly processed and ready to eat in the shortest possible time. 

The seasonality of products has ...

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