MEDiterranean ISlands – Australia Study: Greek Mediterranean Diet Pattern Adherence, Successful Ageing and Associations in Greek Australian Island-Born Long-Term Migrants

Presenter: Dr Antonia (Tania) Thodis, NARI

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About the presentation

Greek-born Australians continue to demonstrate a lower standardised mortality rate than the Australian-born population. Past Australia Greek migrant studies identified resistance to dietary acculturation but did not explore successful aging, cuisine and factors which facilitate adherence to a healthy traditional diet. Elderly residents on Greek islands have closer adherence to a traditional diet pattern and more successful aging compared to their mainland counterparts.  A diminishing window of opportunity exists to examine these and previously unexplored characteristics among Australia’s elderly Greek-born migrants. 
Dr Thodis examined associations between dietary habits, sociocultural characteristics and successful aging among first generation Greek Australian Island-born long-term migrants and compared to counterparts in Greece. Successful aging was similar in both locations and was linked with being male, not being sedentary, not smoking and daily intake of nuts.  A traditional plant-based cuisine, religious fasting and vegetable gardening also appeared to support successful ageing. The findings provide insight into traditional behaviours and a cuisine which warrant further research to better understand potential health benefits.

About the presenter

Tania is an Accredited Practising Dietitian with clinical and research experience delivering nutrition counselling and interventions for cancer care, cardiovascular health and supporting cognitive function among elderly, migrant and CALD populations. Her research area of interest is traditional cuisines and behaviours for managing chronic conditions and she completed her PhD at La Trobe University in 2019. In part, this research evolved from her Greek heritage. Exposure to cultivating seasonal fruits and vegetables, the Greek cuisine and religious fasting was a way of life growing up as a child of migrant parents and grandparents. The study builds upon research findings from past Australian migrant studies and the MEDIS study of elderly resident Greek islanders. 

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