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27-10-2010 | Cardiometabolic | Article

Mediterranean diet may slow age-related weight gain


Free abstract

MedWire News: Spanish researchers say that a Mediterranean dietary pattern is significantly associated with reduced weight gain.

"This vegetable fat-rich dietary pattern, with a high palatability and potential for compliance, can be recommended to slow down age-related weight gain", explain Miguel Martínez-González (University of Navarra, Spain) and colleagues in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Their study showed that participants with the highest adherence to a Mediterranean diet exhibit less yearly weight gain than those with the lowest adherence, and have the lowest risk for gaining weight in the first 4 years of follow-up.

The team measured the change in weight of 10,376 participants (average age 38 years) of a Spanish cohort study of university graduates (the Spanish University of Navarra [SUN] project), who completed a 136-item food-frequency questionnaire at baseline.

Every 2 years the weight of the men and women was measured, over an average follow-up period of 5.7 years, and then compared with their adherence to a Mediterranean diet using the Mediterranean dietary score proposed by Trichopoulou et al (MDS-Trichopoulou: range 0-9), where a higher score corresponds to greater adherence.

Participants with the highest MDS-Trichopoulou score (≥6 points) exhibited the lowest average yearly weight change (0.186 kg), whereas those with the lowest score (≤3 points) exhibited the highest average change (0.295 kg).

Graduates with a high MDS-Trichopoulou score were also 20% and 24% less likely to experience absolute weight gain (≥3kg and ≥5kg, respectively) during follow-up, than those with the lowest adherence to the diet.

There was no significant evidence to show that weight gain was associated with age, body mass index, physical activity, or fiber intake.

The researchers say that despite concerns about the relatively high fat content of a typical Mediterranean diet, most of the fat comes from vegetable sources. Indeed, the participants with the highest adherence to the MDS-Trichopoulou in this study had a lower total fat intake than those who were less adherent.

They suggest that a Mediterranean dietary pattern may have a beneficial effect in slowing down the weight gain that is usually observed with age.

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Current Medicine Group, a trading division of Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2010

By Nikki Withers