How Do Italians Stay Thin - Diet And Culture

Even with growing obesity due to a culture change, Italians remained one of the thinnest countries.

So how Do Italians Stay Thin? Italians' diet was based heavily on the Mediterranean diet which is different from the American fast-food diet. Even pizza and pasta that use fresh ingredients are healthy compared to cheaper processed food without "real" nutrients. 

In Bloomberg Global Health Index 2020, Italy is rated the #2 healthiest country in the world. Spain is #1 and the US is not even in the #30. (

To understand how Italian stay thin, you can see pieces of evidence and signs that younger Italians are not staying thin. Thin Italians getting fatter due to the changes in eating and culture. This meant the "old" ways of diet and cultures are what caused Italians to stay thin.

  • According to the European Association for the Study of Obesity, the adult obesity rate is among the lowest in Europe (about 10 percent of the population), but childhood overweight and obesity rates are among the highest in the world. (
  • In a 2015 study of more than 5,000 Italians' eating habits, fewer than half (43 percent) said they ate Mediterranean-style. (
  • Between the 1960s and early 2000s, the daily calorie intake in Italy increased by 30 percent. (
  • Italy is second in the world only to Greece Italian girls are in about the same situation: 34 percent are overweight or obese. (
  • According to a 2005 study by global research company GfK, just 26 percent of Italian women had started a diet in the previous two years, compared with 37 percent of British women. (

Why is Italy so healthy in terms of Bloomberg review

Among the healthiest countries on this report Spain and Italy rank the highest, these populations typically follow a Mediterranean diet which is one of the most nutritious diets globally because it places the focus on promoting heart health with healthy fats, vegetables, legumes.

Many European countries also enjoy tapas meals, which are small and encourage consuming smaller more right-sized portions. also shared:

Want to know the secret behind how Italians stay so thin and happy? It's a secret I uncovered during my trip to Italy, where I wrote this blog. Sitting in the Umbrian countryside, enjoying a home-cooked meal prepared by Simonetta, a local chef, the answer is clear to me. Family, friends, and fresh, whole food are all part of the pleasure of being alive. And these pleasures help keep you healthy and thin. It's that simple!


Physical activity such as walking due to the infeasibility of owning cars in some of Italy and Europe is a key factor for their health. shared the aspect that

Physical activity is one of the reasons they tend to be thinner. Having a car in any European city is a challenge. As a result, city folks do plenty of walking, and in the country, they walk or ride bicycles. And when French people walk or drive, they usually are not eating, drinking coffee in cardboard cups, or talking on cell phones.

What an Italian eats in a day

Italian eat home-cooked food with their family and friends, with the consumption of fruits, vegetables, legumes, and lean protein instead of red meat or food hidden with tons of sugar. One example of hidden sugar is pasta sauces melted with lots of savory sugar. also shared

The main differences are that Italian pastas are served in smaller portion sizes, are not drowning in sauce, meat and cheese, and they have more vegetables. also shared:

Fresh mozzarella, fresh tomatoes, and extra virgin olive oil (a caprese salad) are a classic light lunch in Italy, maybe with some bread and/or greens. But Italians don't order this thinking in terms like protein + vegetable + omega 3s + carbs for energy, etc. They eat it because it's what they grew up eating and it tastes good.

An aperitivo usually takes the place of dinner in Milan (part of how Italians stay thin – by not overeating).

When you go to the grocery store in Italy, the selection of processed food like snacks and candies is much smaller than in the US. The economic collapse did introduce cheaper processed food to Italians who have small pockets.

Gelato - Even Italian Dessert Are Healthier

Not only are their portion sizes smaller but gelato has less fat than ice cream. It is made with more milk than cream and uses fewer eggs yolks if any compared to ice cream that has a fat content of at least 10 percent.

How To Eat Pasta And Pizza Without Gaining Weight

Besides eating less pasta and pizza, the best way not to gain weight is to avoid sugary drinks on the side. Having Coca-Cola or Pepsi with pizza or pasta is a common place in US culture but different in Italian culture. shared

Eliminating drinks with meals cuts a bunch of calories – but that's usually not why Italians do it. They do it because they don't want flavors competing with the delicious food they're eating. The calories are just a bonus.

Italian portion sizes vs American

The portion size in Italy is not small but manageable compared to American. The use of more fresh vegetables filled the plate compared to the few bits of processed vegetables in the American diet. shared that "Portions in Italy are not what I would call small. But one thing I realized when we moved to Chicago is that my Italian husband and I can share almost any restaurant meal. This is not the case in Italy. It's a whole different scale, and US portions are simply way bigger."


Italian are just like people all over the world. They gain weight too as seen in the growing trend of obesity. If you are faced with unhealthy and cheaper and more delicious food, it will be hard to remain thin. However, the Italian culture is still healthier than other counties due to the diet and physical activities. 

Efforts have been made to get the information as accurate and updated as possible. If you found any incorrect information with credible source, please send it via the contact us form
Sky Hoon
Italy Lover. He travel to Europe a few times and loved Italy for its unique language and culture. He loved the idea of Italian food focusing on original taste of the ingredient.
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