British Journal of Nutrition

Full Papers

Dietary Surveys and Nutritional Epidemiology

Adherence to the Mediterranean diet is associated with better mental and physical health

Miguel-Angel Muñoza1a2, Montserrat Fítoa1a3, Jaume Marrugata4a5a6, Maria-Isabel Covasa1a3 and Helmut Schrödera1a3 c1

on behalf of the REGICOR and HERMES investigators

a1 Cardiovascular Risk and Nutrition Research Group (CARIN-ULEC), IMIM-Hospital del Mar Barcelona, Biomedical Research Park (Parc de Recerca Biomèdica de Barcelona – PRBB), c/Doctor Aiguader 88, 08003 Barcelona, Spain

a2 Equipo de Atención Primaria Montornés-Montmeló, Institut Català de la Salut, Pza Ernest Lluch 1, 08160 Montmeto (Barcelona), Spain

a3 Centros de Investigación Biomédica en Red (CIBER), Fisiopatología de la Obesidad y Nutrición (CIBEROBN), Instituto de Salud Carlos III, c/Sinesio Delgado 6, 28029 Madrid, Madrid, Spain

a4 Cardiovascular Epidemiology and Genetics Research Group (EGEC-ULEC), IMIM-Hospital del Mar, c/Doctor Aiguader 88, 08003 Barcelona, Spain

a5 Program of Research in Inflammatory and Cardiovascular Disorders (RICAD), IMIM-Hospital del Mar, c/Doctor Aiguader 88, 08003, Barcelona, Spain

a6 Centros de Investigación Biomédica en Red (CIBER), Epidemiología y Salud Pública (CIBERESP), Instituto de Salud Carlos III, c/Sinesio Delgado 6, 28029 Madrid, Madrid, Spain

Abstract

The aim of the present study was to analyse the association between adherence to the Mediterranean diet and self-perceived mental and physical health function, controlled for confounding effects of age, smoking, BMI, alcohol consumption, educational level, leisure-time physical activity and the presence of chronic conditions. A random sample of the 35–74-year-old population (3910 men and 4285 women) of Gerona, Spain, was examined in 2000 and 2005 in two independent population-based cross-sectional surveys. Dietary intake was assessed using a validated FFQ. The Mediterranean diet score (MDS) was calculated according to tertile distribution of energy-adjusted food consumption considered characteristic for the Mediterranean region. Health-related quality of life was measured using the SF-12 questionnaire. Alcohol consumption, leisure-time physical activity and smoking habits were recorded. Weight and height were measured. Age-adjusted linear regression analysis revealed a significant (P < 0·01) direct association of the MDS with self-reported mental and physical health in both sexes. An increase of 5 units of the MDS was directly associated with changes of 0·74 and 1·15 units in men and women, respectively, in the mental component score after controlling for potential confounders. The age-adjusted direct association of the MDS with self-reported scoring of physical health remained stable after adjusting for several confounders in men but was attenuated in women. Adherence to the Mediterranean diet was associated with higher scoring for self-perceived health.

(Received April 11 2008)

(Revised September 26 2008)

(Accepted September 29 2008)

(Online publication December 15 2008)

Correspondence:

c1 Corresponding author: Dr Helmut Schröder, CARIN-ULEC, fax +34 933 160 796, email hschroeder@imim.es

Footnotes

† A full roster of REGICOR investigators and collaborators can be found at www.REGICOR.org/regicor.inv

Abbreviations: HRQL, health-related quality of life; MCS, mental component score; MDS, Mediterranean diet score; PCS, physical component score

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