Get healthy: try a Mediterranean diet

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Indy Lifestyle Online

Lardy Brits have long been told to swap their usual dairy, stodge and processed foods for a healthy Mediterranean diet.

But the vaunted fresh fish and olive oil regime of our southern European neighbours seems to be more myth than reality these days.

New research found 53 per cent of adults in Portugal, for instance, are now overweight or obese, said researchers from the University of Lisbon and London's Charing Cross Hospital, who studied more than 8,000 people across the country.

Meanwhile, children in Italy are also getting fatter as a quarter of six-year-olds and nearly a third of all nine-year-olds are classified as overweight or obese. Big family meals centred around home-cooked food are also a thing of the past, according to researchers at the University of Bologna, who found more than half of the 5,500 children they studied ate while glued to the TV.

Southern Europeans have not abandoned their traditional foods but desk jobs are on the rise and fewer people do manual work, while poor education and a low income are all associated with being fat. They still have less heart disease and strokes, but with obesity rates now higher than their northern counterparts except Britain experts worry they could soon catch up.