OBJECTIVE: To examine the participant experiences regarding perceived barriers and facilitators which impact on consuming the Mediterranean diet in the East of England.
DESIGN: Qualitative methodology with focus groups.
SETTING: A healthy, middle-aged population situated in the East of England.
INTERVENTION: An 8-week Mediterranean dietary intervention trial.
PARTICIPANTS: Eleven participants (including three co-habiting partners) in three focus groups, ranging between 50-65 yrs with a mean age of 54.3 yrs (±4.0) RESULTS: Thematic analysis from the focus groups revealed that participants considered that the MD intervention had introduced a better quality of food, widening the food-horizon and allowed them to re-define cultural eating habits. They also reported several physical benefits from adapting to this diet and found the experience as positive. Whilst claiming that the MD was an enjoyable and pleasurable, the participants did express difficulty adapting to the eating pattern, finding difficulty in purchasing food items, an increase in food costs and found work, stress and time pressures undermining adherence.
CONCLUSION: The participants' experiences suggested that the MD was an encouraging dietary change with a middle aged non-Mediterranean based population group. Future MD interventions should tailor interventions and support participants closely, particularly with the necessary planning, organisation and purchasing involved with implementing this diet in non-Mediterranean countries. Secondly, researchers should also challenge any erroneous assumptions regarding the consumption of Mediterranean food, which may hinder implementation.