Health Studies

Premature Mortality Reduced with Med Diet

More than 15,500 Spanish university graduates taking part in the SUN project in Spain are assessed regularly for adherence to the Mediterranean Diet, while researchers follow their health. After 105,980 person-years of followup (about 6+ years for most subjects), this group has a mean age of about 38 years, and 125 of the subjects have died. Researchers determined that for each 2-point increase in the 0-point Med Diet Score, the risk of death dropped by 28%, leading them to conclude that adherence to the traditional Mediterranean Diet was associated with reduced risk of early death.
The Journal of Nutrition. 2012 September; 142(9):1672-8. [Martinez-González et al.]

Med Diet Assessment Tool Captures Obesity Risk

Spanish researchers involved with the PREDIMED Trial wanted to determine whether a 14-item Mediterranean Diet assessment tool could be used as a quicker and less expensive alternative to a 137-item food frequency questionnaire in predicting obesity risk. They found that the 14-items, considered those most typical of a traditional Mediterranean Diet, did indeed correlate to various obesity markers. High consumption of nuts and low consumption of sweetened sodas were most strongly associated with reduced likelihood of obesity.
PloS One. 2012; 7(8):e43134. [Epub 2012 Aug 14] [Martinez-González et al.]

Sugar-Sweetened Beverages and Obesity in Costa Rica

Commercially available sugar-sweetened beverages have not been traditionally consumed as part of the Costa Rican diet.  Because of the rising obesity rates in Latin American countries, researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health designed a study to determine the association between consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages and obesity in Hispanic adults in Costa Rica.  The study involved more than 2000 adults and compared sugar-sweetened beverage consumption to BMI and skinfold thickness.  Overall, higher consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages was associated with increased measures of adiposity and increased BMI in Costa Rican adults.
Public Health Nutrition, August 2012; 15(8): 1347-1354 (Rhee J et al.)

Virgin Olive Oil & Med Diet Turn Off Pro-Inflammatory Genes in Elderly

In the elderly, chronic low-grade inflammation can accelerate atherosclerosis. Scientists in Córdoba, Spain carried out a study to determine how dietary fats change the expression of genes involved with this kind of inflammation. In the study, twenty healthy elderly people followed three different diets for three weeks each: a Mediterranean Diet high in monounsaturated fat from virgin olive oil (VOO), a diet rich in saturated fat, and a low-fat, high-carb diet. They found that the diet featuring virgin olive oil reduced postprandial inflammation in cells.
British Journal of Nutrition. 2012 Aug;108(3):500-8. Camargo et al.

Eat Olive Oil to Improve Bone Health

Spanish researchers seeking information on prevention of osteoporosis placed 127 elderly men on one of three different healthy diet plans – a Med Diet enriched with nuts, a Med Diet enriched with Extra Virgin Olive Oil, or a control low-fat diet – for a period of two years. Two important markers of bone health increased significantly with the olive-oil enriched Med Diet, but not with the other two diets, suggesting positive effects on bone.
The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. 2012 August 1. [Epub ahead of print] [Fernández-Real et al.]

Med Diet Early; Less Arterial Stiffness Later

Starting a good diet early makes a difference in one’s later years. That’s the conclusion of researchers in Maastricht, the Netherlands. As part of the Amsterdam Growth and Health Longevity Study, they assessed the Mediterranean Diet adherence during adolescence and young adulthood, and compared this to arterial stiffness measured by ultrasonography at age 36. They found that the women (all were women) who followed the Med Diet most closely had the healthiest arteries, with the least evidence of stiffening.
Journal of Internal Medicine. 2012 July 19. [Epub ahead of print] [van de Laar et al]

Avocado, Olive Oil Improve Fertility

Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health found that women who regularly eat avocados, olive oil, and other monounsaturated fats were 3.4 times more likely to conceive a child when undergoing IVF (in vitro fertilization). After studying the fat intake of 147 women, they found that those consuming the most saturated fat produced fewer good eggs.
Preliminary results presented at the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (Istanbul) – not yet published in a peer-reviewed journal. 2012 July.

Semi-Vegetarians Most Likely to Exhibit Eating Disordered Behavior

Researchers from Towson University and the University of Pennsylvania conducted two studies on a total of 486 participants to determine whether diet type (vegan, lacto ovo vegetarian, semi-vegetarian including pescatarians and red meat vegetarians, and omnivorous) was associated with eating disordered behavior including emotional  eating, restrained eating, and desire for thinness. They found that the semi-vegetarians were relatively the most disordered in terms of their food-related behaviors and attitudes. Vegans had the healthiest attitudes toward food, closely followed by vegetarians – a somewhat surprising result, given the inherent restrictions of the diets. The authors call for further research on the relationship between semi-vegetarianism and disordered eating.
Appetite. 2012 Jun;58:982-90. (Timko et al.)

Fast Food Restaurants -- and Childhood Obesity -- Boom in China

This report documents the problem of childhood obesity in China.  One of the key contributing factors is the consumption of fast food.  Fast food establishments are growing rapidly in China.  Eating at McDonald’s is convenient for Chinese families and also signifies social status.
International Journal of Cardiology. 2012 June 14;157(3):315-317. (Cheng)

Virgin Olive Oil and Nuts Lower Inflammatory Markers

researchers involved with the PREDIMED trial compared inflammatory markers in three groups of adults involved in an intervention trial where one group’s diet was supplemented with virgin olive oil (VOO), the second group’s diet was supplemented with nuts, and the third group ate a low fat diet. After three months, both the VOO group and the nuts group had lower levels of several inflammation markers.
Pharmacological Research. 2012 Jun;65(6):577-83. Urpi-Sarda et al.

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