Affiliations: [a] Division of Endocrinology, Department of Clinical Medicine, S. Orsola-Malpighi Hospital, University of Bologna, Via Massarenti 9, 40138 Bologna, Italy. e-mail: [email protected]
Abstract: This observational study aims to evaluate the eating habits of a population of high school students from Emilia Romagna. 492 students aged between 15 and 19 years (265 females and 227 males) were personally interviewed by a dietician regarding their dietary habits, used to assess the macro and micronutrient composition of the diet, the quality of the diet according to the Mediterranean diet quality index (M-DQI) and the total amounts of advanced glycation endproducts (AGEs) ingested daily. The analysis of macronutrients showed a deficit in carbohydrates and an excess in fat, particularly saturated fat, when compared to the recommended daily intake (RDA), particularly evident in males (30.9 ± 7.5 vs. 23.9 ± 6.0, p < 0.001; RDA < 20 g). The analysis of micronutrients depicted a deficit in fibres, particularly in females (15.9 ± 4.0 vs. 18.5 ± 4.5, p < 0.001; RDA = 20–30 g), and in vitamin D (3.04 ± 1.80 μg/day; RDA = 10–15 μg/day). Most of the subjects analysed had M-DQI between medium-poor (280/492, 56.9%) and poor (208/492, 42.3%) while none had a very good score and only three females had a good score. Collectively, males had a worse M-DQI with respect to females. Finally, the total amount of AGEs ingested daily correlated significantly and positively with M-DQI (r = 0.283, p < 0.001) and, accordingly, it was significantly higher in males with respect to females. The evaluation of the M-DQI in this population of high school students indicates a loss of food traditions typical to Mediterranean countries, with a consequent imbalance in macro and micronutrients with respect to the guidelines for healthy nutrition. Consequently, there is an increase in the intake of AGEs that could be one of the causes of the increased incidence of cardiovascular and metabolic complications in Mediterranean countries.