Sex Differences in Body Mass Index, Mediterranean Diet Adherence, and Physical Activity Level among Italian Adolescents

An Open Access article published in the Health Behavior and Policy Review Journal.
The full article is available as a PDF download.


Francesca Mastorci, PhD
Cristina Doveri
Gabriele Trivellini
Anselmo Casu, BS
Luca Bastiani, BS
Alessandro Pingitore, MD, PhD,
Cristina Vassalle, PhD


Unhealthy lifestyle habits during adolescence are linked to a higher risk of chronic degenerative disease during adulthood. The aim of this study was to assess the lifestyle habits among Italian adolescents, considering the potential influence of sex.


Data were collected from 1707 eligible students. Demographic, dietary, and lifestyle data were collected, by using KIDMED and PAQ-C instruments.


The overall population had a medium adherence to a Mediterranean diet (58%, KIDMED score: 2.11 ± 0.64). There was no statistically significant difference in adherence by sex. We found boys to be more physically active than girls (p < .001). Considering ponderal index status, boys had turned out to be more overweight and obese respectively (13% and 4% respect to 10% and 2% in female population, p < .05, respectively), due to the presence of only one risk factor (medium or low both in diet and in physical activity score).


Our results showed that our population stands at average levels both for its adherence to the Mediterranean diet and for physical activity, with males having a higher percentage of overweight and obesity. Importantly, in contrast to girls, boys have a higher risk of obesity, also in the presence of a single risk factor.

Source: Health Behavior and Policy Review, Volume 7, Number 6, December 2020, pp. 596-603(8)
Publisher: Paris Scholar Publishing Ltd.