Affiliations: [a] Department of Biology, Laboratory of Health Sciences and Technologies, Higher Institute of Health Sciences, Hassan the First University, Settat, Morocco
| [b] Laboratory of Human Ecology, Faculty of Sciences Semlalia, Cadi Ayyad University, Marrakech, Morocco
| [c] Departamento de Biología, Unidad de Antropología Facultad de Ciencias. Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Madrid, Spain
| [d] Consultant Epidemiologist in Private Practice, Luxembourg
Corresponding author: Oussama El Mokhtari, Higher Institute of Health Sciences, Hassan the First University, PB 555 Settat, Morocco. Tel.: +212 667754847; E-mail: [email protected].
Abstract: BACKGROUND:Few studies have compared the diets of minor migrants with similar ethnic groups in the country of origin. Although Moroccans form the largest foreign population group in Spain, there is limited information on their dietary changes and the effects on nutritional status. AIM:To determine whether migration has caused changes in adherence to the Mediterranean diet (MD) in a sample of Moroccan adolescents living in Madrid (Spain) compared with their peers in northern Morocco (Al Hoceima). METHODS:A cross-sectional study was conducted among 409 Moroccan pupils, 308 living in Al Hoceima and 101 living in Madrid. Food records were compiled over three non-consecutive days by pre-trained adolescents. Energy and nutrient intakes were estimated using the DIAL software, adapted to include foods usually eaten in Morocco. Diet quality indicators studied were the Mediterranean Adequacy Index (MAI), caloric profile, cholesterol (mg/1000 kcal) and fibre density (g/1000 kcal). A binary logistic regression model was used to test the association between the MAI and the adolescents’ geographical location and socio-economic level. RESULTS:Moroccan adolescents living in Al Hoceima were significantly 10.5 times more likely to attain a high MAI score than their peers living in Madrid. For both sexes, migration decreased significantly the ratio of unsaturated to saturated fatty acids (1.8 vs. 2.5). For boys, migrant adolescents had significantly higher daily energy (2860.9 vs. 2139.1 kcal), protein (13.9 vs. 13.2 %) and lower fibre (11.2 vs. 14.3) intakes than autochthonous adolescents. For girls, there were no significant differences. CONCLUSION:Migration can be beneficial for Moroccan migrants in terms of increased daily energy intake. However, the fact that their energy intake is increasingly provided by non-Mediterranean foods could have negative consequences for their health, with increased rates of overweight and obesity. It is essential to continue to promote the Mediterranean Diet, especially among young people.