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The Mediterranean diet: does it have to cost more?

  • Adam Drewnowski (a1) and Petra Eichelsdoerfer (a2)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 01 September 2009

To test the viability of the Mediterranean diet as an affordable low-energy-density model for dietary change.


Foods characteristic of the Mediterranean diet were identified using previously published criteria. For these foods, energy density (kJ/100 g) and nutrient density in relation to both energy ($/MJ) and nutrient cost were examined.


Some nutrient-rich low-energy-density foods associated with the Mediterranean diet were expensive, however, others that also fit within the Mediterranean dietary pattern were not.


The Mediterranean diet provides a socially acceptable framework for the inclusion of grains, pulses, legumes, nuts, vegetables and both fresh and dried fruit into a nutrient-rich everyday diet. The precise balance between good nutrition, affordability and acceptable social norms is an area that deserves further study. The new Mediterranean diet can be a valuable tool in helping to stem the global obesity epidemic.

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2.A Drewnowski (2004) Obesity and the food environment: dietary energy density and diet costs. Am J Prev Med 27, 154162.

3.A Drewnowski & BM Popkin (1997) The nutrition transition: new trends in the global diet. Nutr Rev 55, 3143.

6.T Lobstein , L Baur & R Uauy ; IASO International Obesity TaskForce (2004) Obesity in children and young people: a crisis in public health. Obes Rev 5, Suppl. 4, 4104.

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9.E Andrieu , N Darmon & A Drewnowski (2006) Low-cost diets: more energy, fewer nutrients. Eur J Clin Nutr 60, 434436.

10.A Trichopoulou , T Costacou , C Bamia & D Trichopoulos (2003) Adherence to a Mediterranean diet and survival in a Greek population. N Engl J Med 348, 25992608.

11.PN Mitrou , V Kipnis , ACM Thiébaut (2007) Mediterranean dietary pattern and prediction of all-cause mortality in a US population. Arch Intern Med 167, 24612468.

12.J Dai , AH Miller , JD Bremner (2008) Adherence to the Mediterranean diet is inversely associated with circulating interleukin-6 among middle-aged men: A twin study. Circulation 117, 169175.

13.J Goulet , B Lamarche , G Nadeau & S Lemieux (2003) Effect of a nutritional intervention promoting the Mediterranean food pattern on plasma lipids, lipoproteins and body weight in healthy French-Canadian women. Atherosclerosis 170, 115124.

14.A Drewnowski (1998) Energy density, palatability, and satiety: implications for weight control. Nutr Rev 56, 347353.

19.A Drewnowski , P Monsivais , M Maillot & N Darmon (2007) Low-energy-density diets are associated with higher diet quality and higher diet costs in French adults. J Am Diet Assoc 107, 10281032.

21.I Shai , D Schwarzfuchs , Y Henkin (2008) Weight loss with a low-carbohydrate, Mediterranean, or low-fat diet. N Engl J Med 359, 229241.

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Public Health Nutrition
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