Adherence to the Mediterranean diet among adults in Mediterranean countries: a systematic literature review

Cecile A Obeid*, Jessica S Gubbels, Doris Jaalouk, Stef P J Kremers, Anke Oenema

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journal(Systematic) Review article peer-review


BACKGROUND AND AIM: While the Mediterranean diet (MD) is promoted in non-Mediterranean countries, inhabitants of Mediterranean countries seem to be shifting away from this healthy diet. The aim of this study is to provide an overview of MD adherence in the general adult population of Mediterranean countries.

METHODS: A systematic review was conducted following the PRISMA 2020 (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis) guidelines and registered in the Prospero database (CRD42020189337). Literature was searched in PubMed, Web of Science and PsycINFO databases for studies published from 2010 up to and including 2021. The following inclusion criteria were used: age 18 years and older, sample size > 1000 participants, and using a validated MD adherence score. Studies that only included participants with nutrition-related or other severe chronic disorders, as well as studies that only included specific subpopulations (e.g., pregnant women), were excluded in order to focus on the general adult population. A quality analysis of the included studies was done using the NCCMT scale.

RESULTS: A total of 50 studies were included. The number of participants in the included studies ranged between 1013 and 94,113. Most of the included studies pertained to the European Mediterranean countries, with fewer studies from the Middle Eastern and North African Mediterranean countries. The vast majority of the included studies reported low or moderate MD adherence, both based on the mean adherence as well as the low or moderate adherence category often being the most prevalent. There were no clear differences noted between sex and age groups. The quality assessment generally showed weak or moderate scores.

CONCLUSIONS: Mediterranean populations have been showing moderate adherence to MD in the past 10 years, indicating room for improving adherence to the MD in countries of its origin.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3327-3344
Number of pages18
JournalEuropean Journal of Nutrition
Issue number7
Early online date22 Apr 2022
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2022


  • Adherence
  • Adults
  • Mediterranean countries
  • Mediterranean diet
  • RISK


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