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Albanian paradox: another case of the protective effect of Mediterranean lifestyle?

Gjonça, Arjan and Bobak, Martin (1997) Albanian paradox: another case of the protective effect of Mediterranean lifestyle? The Lancet, 350 (9094). pp. 1815-1817. ISSN 0140-6736

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Identification Number: 10.1016/S0140-6736(97)08347-5


Background Low mortality in Mediterranean populations has stimulated much interest, a possible explanation being diet. We have analysed data from Albania, the poorest country in Europe, to see if they corroborate findings from elsewhere in the region. Methods Data on mortality routinely collected in Albania, corrected for incompleteness, were analysed. Demographic and food consumption data from United Nations agency sources were used to identify potential explanations for the mortality pattern. Findings Consistent with its economic situation, Albania has one of the highest infant mortality rates in Europe (45·4 per 1000 live births for males and 38·0 for females in 1990). By contrast, adult mortality, including mortality from cardiovascular diseases, is similar to that in other Mediterranean countries. For example, age-standardised mortality for coronary heart disease in males aged 0–64 was 41 per 100 000 in Albania in 1990, less than half the rate in the UK but similar to that in Italy. Analysis of the geographical distribution of mortality within Albania (1978) showed that mortality was lowest in the south-west where most of the olive oil, fruits, and vegetables are produced and consumed. Interpretation This parardox of high adult life expectancy in very-low-income country can be most plausibly explained by diet—namely, low consumption of total energy, meat, and milk products but high consumption of fruit, vegetables, and carbohydrates. If this hypothesis is confirmed by future research, Albanian experience can contribute to formulation of preventive policy in high mortality countries.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 1997 Elsevier Ltd
Divisions: Social Policy
LSE Health
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DR Balkan Peninsula
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine
Date Deposited: 20 Jan 2009 11:25
Last Modified: 10 Apr 2024 07:57

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