Maltese diet: More pasta, less fries and less fruit

A new study has found that the Maltese are eating more bread and pasta but less fruit, vegetables and fatty foods

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James Debono
27 January 2017, 10:00am
Total carbohydrate intake has increased considerably when compared to the intake in the 1980s
Total carbohydrate intake has increased considerably when compared to the intake in the 1980s
Compared to the early 1980s, the Maltese are eating more bread and pasta, less fruit and vegetables and less fatty foods.

A study comparing present nutritional habits of the Maltese with those identified in a 1983 study shows that the Maltese are consuming more carbohydrates and less fat and fibre. 

Ruth Caruana from the Department of Medicine and Michael Patterson from the Department of Life Sciences of the University of Roehampton author the study published in the latest edition of the Malta Medical Journal.

According to the study fat intake has decreased markedly. 

The levels have decreased among males but more drastically among females. 

The study shows that values for mean daily fat percentage intake have decreased from 41.5% to 34% among males and from 46% to just 30% among females. 

Dietary cholesterol was also much higher in the 1983 cohort. According to the authors of the study this probably reflects a change in lifestyle habits which sees the Maltese ingesting less saturated animal fats than they used to. 

Total carbohydrate intake has increased considerably when compared to the intake in the 1980s. 

“Possibly this has happened because carbohydrates are now replacing the extra fat that the Maltese used to ingest at the time.” Since the amount of sugars has decreased when compared to the 1983 data the carbohydrate intake of the Maltese today consists mostly of complex carbohydrate. 

“Even though the types of food have not been looked into specifically, from simple observation we believe the most popular forms of carbohydrate now eaten in Malta are bread and pasta”, the study concludes. 

The study also shows a major decrease in dietary fibre intake for both males and females since 1983. This indicates that the Maltese are eating less fruit and vegetables. This suggests that fibre rich foods are being replaced by carbohydrates. 

The study carried out in 2013 was based on a sample of the general population, recruited from hospital clinics and general practice clinics across different locations in Malta. 

The percentage protein intake remains similar to that in 1983. 

The study, which included a sample from the Diabetes clinic, also shows that diabetics are not changing their diets and lifestyle habits once they are given their diagnosis. 

It also refers to greater rates of obesity among those diagnosed with diabetes. Among this cohort the obesity rate was 49%, double that in the normal population.

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James Debono is MaltaToday's chief reporter on environment, planning and land use issues, ...