Mediterranean Diet Effective for Weight Loss

Summary
A Mediterranean diet is rich in vegetables and fruits, with limited intake of poultry, meat products and alcohol; it is considered effective in preventing obesity or just being overweight. This style of eating is modeled after countries in the Mediterranean basin like Greece. This study correlates the association between being on the Mediterranean diet and weight change. It was observed that following the Mediterranean dietary pattern led to less weight gain associated with age. The researchers state that, “the Mediterranean dietary pattern might be a potential tool for the prevention of obesity.”

Introduction
Recent trends in battling obesity focus more on eating patterns rather than avoiding or adding specific foods. The Mediterranean diet, typically rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, seafood, olive oil, whole grains etc. and has been proved to be favorable in diabetes and heart and brain disorders. But scientific data on the role of this diet in reducing weight are inconsistent and vary with each study. Previous studies had been done for shorter periods and had failed to incorporate appropriate means to check for observance of the Mediterranean meal pattern. Thus, the aim of this current study was to assess the association between certain scores used to assess the adherence of people to the Mediterranean food pattern and the corresponding weight changes.

Methodology
•           This is a long ongoing study beginning in 1999. People were recruited over a span of six years. After much scrutiny of the 17,000 participants, the study population finally included 10,376 men and women graduate students. They were followed up on for an average of five to seven years.
•           They were weighed initially and thereafter, every two years. The participants also filled in a detailed questionnaire, which was based on six scoring patterns, regarding their food habits and maintenance of a Mediterranean diet.
•           Statistical methods were used to assess the effects of the diet.

Results
•           From most of the scoring patterns, it was found that the participants who followed the Mediterranean diet most strictly showed less weight gain over the test period than other groups with lower adherence.
•           People who stuck to the diet plan with more loyalty had higher levels of monounsaturated fatty acids than saturated fatty acids.
•           People faithfully following the Mediterranean diet plan consumed less amounts of fast food, red meats and sweetened beverages.
•           Risk of putting on weight (more than 6 to 11 lbs.) during the first two years was lowest in participants with the highest adherence to the diet.

Shortcomings
The authors claim that the limitation in the study was the dependence on participants for their answers. There might have been a high chance of error and misclassification. Moreover, food habits change over a prolonged time and the authors state that the time period of six years may have been short.

Conclusion
It can infer from this study that “adherence to a Mediterranean dietary pattern was significantly associated with a reduced weight gain,” per the study authors. There was also a lower risk of gaining weight, as can be seen from the results, which were based on the follow-up studies. This diet is also recommended for delay of age-related weight gain. With the help of correlation with more statistical tests, this study may have cleared doubts over the use of a Mediterranean diet among obese people. The palatability of the olive oil-rich diet could be a strong reason for people opting to adhere to this meal.

For More Information:
Adherence to a Mediterranean Diet May Prevent Obesity
Publication Journal: The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, September 2010
By Juan-José  Beunza; Estefanía Toledo; University of Navarra, Navarra, Spain

*FYI Living Lab Reports Are Summaries of the Original Research.
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