Tracing the Mediterranean diet through principal components and cluster analyses in the Greek population.
European Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2003 ; 57: 1378-85.
DOI : 10.1038/sj.ejcn.1601699
PubMed ID : 14576750
To identify dietary patterns, and their socio-demographic and lifestyle correlates in a large sample of Greek adults, and assess their adherence to the traditional Mediterranean diet.
Principal component (PC) analysis was used to identify dietary patterns among 28 034 participants of the Greek branch of the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition. Dietary information was collected through a validated, semiquantitative, food-frequency questionnaire. The extracted PCs were subsequently regressed on sociodemographic and lifestyle variables. Analyses were also performed to classify individuals with similar dietary behavior into clusters.
Four PCs were identified: PC1 resembled the Mediterranean diet, PC2 approximated a vegetarian diet with emphasis on seed oils, PC3 reflected a preference for sweets, and PC4 reflected a Western diet. PC1 and PC2 were positively associated with age, education, physical activity, and nonsmoking status. Females, in comparison to males, scored higher on PC1 but lower on PC2. Males, younger, more educated individuals, nonsmokers and residents of Greater Athens (Attica) scored higher on PC3. PC4 was associated with younger age, less education, and current smoking. In cluster analyses, cluster A contrasted clusters B and C in having much higher mean PC1- and PC2-scores and substantially lower PC3- and PC4-scores. PC1 and PC4 were, respectively, positively and inversely correlated with an a priori Mediterranean-diet score; PC2 and PC3 were unrelated to it.
The Mediterranean-like PC1-score as well as the vegetarian-like PC2 were higher among older, more educated people, and were associated with a healthier lifestyle than PC4, which reflected a Western-type diet. PC1 was strongly positively associated with an a priori Mediterranean-diet score.