Cardiovascular disease risk factors and dietary habits of farmers from Crete 45 years after the first description of the Mediterranean diet.

C.I. Vardavas*, M.K. Linardakis, C.M. Hatzis, W.H.M. Saris, A.G. Kafatos

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


BACKGROUND: Farmers from Crete as first studied within the framework of the Seven Countries Study, were historically known for holding the title of the 'gold standard' of health status globally and had a very low prevalence of both cardiovascular disease (CVD) and cancer. Taking the above into account we evaluated the changes in CVD risk factors among farmers in Crete, Greece and compared our findings with data from the 1960s. DESIGN: Cross-sectional. METHODS: Five hundred and two farmers (18-79 years old) from the Valley of Messara in Crete were randomly selected and examined in 2005. Complete clinical, biochemical, dietetic, anthropometrical and lifestyle CVD risk factors were assessed, matched and compared with published data from the 1960s. RESULTS: In comparison with 45 years ago, present day male farmers from Crete were found to have a 30% higher BMI (29.8 vs. 22.9 kg/m, P<0.001) and a 16% higher total cholesterol level (239.6 vs. 206.9 mg/dl, P<0.001) and also a not so favourable daily dietary intake (increase in meat and saturated fat and decrease in fruit, P<0.001, respectively), while a significant reduction in systolic blood pressure and energy intake was noticed. In regards to changes in subcutaneous adipose tissue fatty acid composition, a decrease in monounsaturated (P<0.001) and an increase in saturated fatty acids (P<0.001) was also found elucidating the temporal change in dietary habits. CONCLUSION: The population's lack of adherence to the Mediterranean diet, have led to the fact that currently farmers from Crete are likely to be at a higher risk for developing CVD in comparison with earlier generations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)440-446
Number of pages7
JournalEuropean Journal of Cardiovascular Prevention & Rehabilitation
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2010


  • adipose tissue
  • body mass index
  • cardiovascular disease
  • cholesterol
  • fatty acids
  • hypertension
  • Mediterranean diet
  • obesity
  • physical activity

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