The dietary habits of Greeks are changing to suit increasingly fast-paced lifestyles but a growing number of consumers are declining fast food for healthier fare, according to survey results presented yesterday. The research, prepared by the Consumers’ Protection Center (KEPKA), found an 18 percent increase since the last study in 2003 in the number of people who eschewed fast food. Press coverage highlighting the negative impact fast food has on health has helped raise awareness of the issue, said Evangelia Kekelekis, KEPKA general secretary. «People have started to realize the role of diet [in health]. Based on data from the World Health Organization, heart problems are responsible for half the deaths in Europe. One third of them are connected to bad dietary habits,» said Kekelekis. «An improved diet reduces the chances of cancer by 30-40 percent,» she added. In the survey, carried out from July last year through last month, 51.7 percent of those questioned said they changed their diet for health reasons or because of more demanding work commitments. Data also showed that the traditional Mediterranean diet of lentils and fruit has given way to potato chips and cakes. Pulses feature on the dinner table only a few times a month and meat is consumed more often. Food supplements appear to be more in fashion as 25 percent of respondents said that they have used them, though often without a doctor’s recommendation. Meanwhile, food safety has also become a main issue for consumers. Almost daily, the news shows health inspectors turning away tons of food that is unfit for consumption but consumers are still not convinced that these crackdowns are effective. Eight in 10 respondents believe that the government is not doing its job properly with the market checks while 60 percent questioned the results of food inspections. Because people are more pressed for time these days, they are also spending less time grocery shopping. More than a third (37.5 percent) of respondents said that they go to the supermarket once a week and 16 percent said they shop for food every day. Weight-loss centers are also becoming popular options to shed extra kilos, despite the steep costs. Half of the respondents said they tried to lose weight by going on a diet; of that portion, 73 percent said they had sought the services of a weight-loss center. The survey questioned 880 people between the ages of 18 and 75.