The Mediterranean model of eating known as the Mediterranean Diet is certainly an important reference marker in the search of a healthy eating pattern attuned to the modern way of life. A number of studies and research up to now having underlined the importance of the Mediterranean Diet. Epidemiological studies have shown that countries who follow the Mediterranean model of eating suffer from less medical problems, such as cardiovascular diseases, cancer, diabetes and obesity.
Cyprus is a traditional Mediterranean country with a long food history. Unfortunately our eating habits have been changed and influenced through the years by western societies. The consumption of pulses, fruits and vegetables decreased and at the same time the consumption of meat, snacks and saturated fats increased tremendously. Obesity and especially children's obesity has become one of the major problems of our society.
The ministry of health decided to face this problem in a dynamic way. Children are the future adults, the future population of this country, and they can easily learn and absorb new things. So the ministry is making an effort to address to the children and teach them how to stay healthy and how to preserve the Mediterranean diet through the years.
This project, called "The Mediterranean Diet, back to our nutrition", aims at teaching children aged 11-12 years the benefits of the Mediterranean diet and gives them an opportunity to practice it. The children invite their parents to a food festival where they can eat, dance and be reminded of the value of the Mediterranean diet.
The project includes the following:
- Visit to schools by nutritionists who teach children the principles of the Mediterranean diet.
- Invitation to parents to join the children in a Mediterranean lunch food festival.
- During the lunch the children present to their parents the Mediterranean pyramid through speeches, poems and theatrical sketches. They also invite them to taste a Mediterranean lunch and celebrate with music, wine and dance.
This is a very successful program, because it brings together the children, the family and the school. The children get very enthusiastic and try to remind their parents of what the traditional Cyprus diet used to be. In this way we hope we can preserve our traditions and become healthy as a country.
Nicosia General Hospital, Ministry of Health, Cyprus