The Significance of Eating Patterns: An Elderly Greek Case Study Academic Article uri icon


  • Eating patterns are a relatively neglected area of nutrition assessment with considerable potential health importance. Cross-cultural and socio-anthropological studies provide insight into the great range of food patterns which are related to health, biochemical measurements and anthropometry. The International Union of Nutritional Sciences (IUNS) study of aged folk in food-culturally disparate communities has provided opportunities to explore these issues. This paper uses cross-sectional data from the Greek arms of the IUNS study to explore associations between eating pattern variables (number of meals, time of meals, main meal for lunch and/or dinner, meal plus alcohol) and with the prevalence of self-reported heart disease and diabetes, body fatness, blood lipids, blood glucose and the overall variety of foods consumed. The eating pattern variables were not associated with blood lipids, self-reported heart disease or diabetes. Body fatness was negatively associated with the consumption of a greater number of meals/snacks daily (p<0.01), with the consumption of two cooked meals daily (p<0. 05) or when the main meal was consumed at lunch time (p<0.05) and when breakfast was consumed earlier rather than later in the morning (p<0.01). Later dinner times were positively correlated with a higher fasting blood glucose in non-diabetic elderly Greeks (p<0. 0005). A more varied diet was positively associated with the consumption of alcohol with dinner (p<0.0001) and with a greater number of meals/snacks daily (p<0.0001). These findings suggest that adherence to the traditional Greek eating pattern may be protective against obesity and appears to promote greater food variety.

publication date

  • February 1999