A prospective cohort study with university level participants was initiated to study the effect of Mediterranean diet on health.The objective of this study was to identify possible lifestyle and socioeconomic variables associated with the consumption of a Mediterranean dietary pattern (MDP).This analysis includes 1587 males and 2260 females. MDP was defined "a priori" by summing the standardized residuals of nutrients and foods after adjusting a regression model using total energy intake as the independent variable. Multiple regression and non-parametric locally weighted regression models were adjusted with the relative adherence to the MDP as the dependent variable in males and females.Women were more compliant than men with the MDP (Coefficient regression (b) = 4.1; Confidence Interval (CI) 95 % = 3.2 to 4.9). The compliance with the MDP was significantly poorer among younger participants both in men and women (p < 0.001 in men and in women). Participants who were more physically active were more likely to fulfill the traditional MDP (p = 0.01 in men and p < 0.001 in women).Our findings provide evidence supporting the progressive departure from the traditional MDP in younger and highly educated subjects of the Mediterranean area. A more active life-style is associated with a better compliance with the MDP.