Researchers at the University of Parma, Italy, recently published a study in Nutrients identifying a link between a Mediterranean-style diet and key health outcomes in children. Children who more closely follow a Mediterranean-style diet are more likely to exhibit other healthy behaviors and outcomes such as increased physical activity, higher academic achievement, and better quality and quantity of sleep, the research reveals. The study analyzed the behaviors of approximately 700 school-aged children enrolled in the Giocampus educational program, created by Barilla and the University of Parma to improve the wellbeing of future generations through healthy eating education and promotion of physical activity.
The study adds to a growing body of research showing a positive association between a Mediterranean-style diet, healthy weight status, and sleep quantity and quality in children and adolescents. That is, better adherence to a Mediterranean-style diet may be associated with healthier weight status as well as more sleep and better-quality sleep.
“The Mediterranean Diet and the adoption of a healthy lifestyle do not mean just eating well and exercising, but also sleeping well. In fact, the word ‘diet’ in ancient Latin and Greek actually implied a lifestyle, rather than exclusively a dietary regimen,” says Kristen Wilk, MS, RDN, Senior Account Executive at Edelman, Food & Nutrition.
A Mediterranean-style diet incorporates the traditional healthy living habits of people from countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea, including Italy, France, Greece, and Spain. While Mediterranean cuisine varies by region, a Mediterranean-style diet is largely based on a high intake of vegetables, fruits, nuts, beans, cereal grains, olive oil, and fish, and small portions of meat and dairy. Pasta tossed with other healthy ingredients such as vegetables, beans, lean proteins, olive oil, and herbs is an easy, balanced Mediterranean-style meal. The Passion for Pasta Advisory Council, a project of Barilla bringing together scientists, nutritionists, and researchers to encourage sustainable consumption of pasta, provides a range of Mediterranean diet-friendly recipes on their website.