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Abstract

"The Mediterranean Diet" is a commonly used term in the U.S. denoting healthful eating and a healthy lifestyle. It appears to be inspired by the traditional diets of two Mediterranean countries based on post-World War II studies conducted in Naples, Italy and Crete. Popularization of the Mediterranean diet is associated with increased demand for red wine and olive oil in the United States. As noted in the American Heart Association (AHA) website, there is no one "Mediterranean" diet. The Mediterranean diet, as typically presented, appears to be inspired by traditional diets in Southern Italy, Greece, and Spain. The AHA outlines the common characteristics of the Mediterranean dietary pattern. At least two non-profit organizations promote their version of a Mediterranean diet pyramid, and hundreds of books present their version of the Mediterranean diet. There appears to be an outstanding opportunity for a well-funded and motivated organization to effectively market a Mediterranean diet plan, based on accepted marketing models. Research on market segments, product definition and product positioning will be required. Questions to be considered relate to the effectiveness of diet pyramids, diet benefits sought by various consumer segments, and the medical and health benefits of individual food products as documented by medical and nutrition research. Examples of the health and nutrition research and promotion programs for four California commodity groups provide information on an alternative approach to presenting information on diet and health.

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