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Mediterranean diet reduces long-term risk of subsequent weight gain and obesity among adults

A research group from Spain has studied the dietary patterns associated with a high intake of fruits and vegetables in Mediterranean populations

They have analysed the associations between fruit and vegetable intake and weight gain over a 10-year period in an adult Mediterranean population

Despite the alarming increase in the prevalence of obesity, epidemiologic studies that prospectively examine the fruit and vegetable consumption and other lifestyle factors in relation to weight gain (WG) are still insufficient. For that reason, a research group composed by J Vioque, T Weinbrenner, A Castelló, L Asensio and M Garcia de la Hera, of the Department of Public Health, Science History and Gynaecology of the “Miguel Hernández” University Elche-Alicante, Spain, explored the associations between fruit and vegetable intake and WG over a 10-year period in an adult Mediterranean population. The results of their research work were published in 2008 in an article entitled Intake of fruits and vegetables in relation to 10-year weight gain among Spanish adults in the journal Obesity.

Mediterranean diet reduces obesity risk

The scientists performed a 10-year follow-up study with healthy participants (206) aged 15-80 years at baseline in 1994, who participated in a nutrition survey in Valencia, Spain. Data on diet, lifestyle factors, and body weight were obtained in 1994 and 2004 using a food frequency questionnaire (FFQ) and direct measurements. The average WG over the study period was 3.41 kg.

The data analysis of this study was limited by the number of participants. The researchers did not perform separate analyses for men and women and groups for statistical reasons (lack of sufficient statistical power). Concerning gender differences there are some studies which have demonstrated different associations between food group intake and weight changes among men and women.

In conclusion, the researchers found that increased fruit and vegetable intake was associated with significantly lower risk of a medium WG (3,41 kg) over 10 years among adults of a Spanish Mediterranean population. Dietary strategies to increase fruit and vegetable intake to prevent and control overweight and obesity should be promoted more vigorously. The researchers concluded that dietary patterns associated with a high intake of fruits and vegetables in Mediterranean populations may reduce long-term risk of subsequent WG and obesity among adults.

Antonio Marín Ruiz | alfa
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