Researchers Review Benefits of Mediterranean Diet to Reduce Obesity

After an extensive review of the scientific literature, researchers found that following the Mediterranean diet yields many benefits for obese people and those at risk of obesity.
By Paolo DeAndreis
Oct. 24, 2022 18:46 UTC

Some of the most com­mon con­di­tions trig­gered by obe­sity might be mit­i­gated or pre­vented by adopt­ing the Mediterranean diet, a new meta-study has found.

The researchers con­ducted a wide-rang­ing review of the cur­rent sci­en­tific lit­er­a­ture. They found that fol­low­ing the Mediterranean diet could yield many ben­e­fits for obese peo­ple and peo­ple at risk of obe­sity.

The authors of the meta-study, pub­lished in Current Obesity Reports, noted that hyper­ten­sion, type 2 dia­betes mel­li­tus, sev­eral types of can­cers or dys­lipi­demia, a lipid imbal­ance that often pre­cedes car­dio­vas­cu­lar con­di­tions, are among the many dis­eases fre­quently diag­nosed in obese peo­ple.

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By review­ing the cur­rent sci­en­tific lit­er­a­ture, the authors found that adopt­ing the Mediterranean diet might reduce oxida­tive stress, inflam­ma­tion, throm­bo­sis and endothe­lial dys­func­tion.

Following the diet was also linked with weight loss, mod­u­lat­ing the gut micro­biome and improv­ing lipid pro­file, immu­nity and insulin sen­si­tiv­ity.

By lim­it­ing inflam­ma­tion and reg­u­lat­ing cho­les­terol, the Mediterannenean diet was also proven to be a prac­ti­cal step in can­cer pre­ven­tion and reduc­ing car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease risks.

According to the World Health Organization, 650 mil­lion adults were obese in 2016. Obesity-related dis­eases are esti­mated to kill more peo­ple than those asso­ci­ated with being under­weight in most coun­tries. In addi­tion, WHO data show that 39 mil­lion chil­dren under the age of five are over­weight or obese, dou­ble the amount deemed obese in 1980.

The researchers described the Mediterranean diet as char­ac­ter­ized by a high con­sump­tion of veg­eta­bles, fruit, nuts, cere­als, whole grains and extra vir­gin olive oil, as well as a mod­er­ate con­sump­tion of fish and poul­try and a lim­ited intake of sweets, red meat and dairy prod­ucts.”

In the meta-study, the researchers ana­lyzed the proven effects of fol­low­ing the Mediterranean diet on the most com­mon obe­sity-related con­di­tions.

They found that the Mediterranean diet is not asso­ci­ated with weight gain, even with no energy restric­tions. A high-fat, unre­stricted-calo­rie Mediterranean diet also was asso­ci­ated with lit­tle weight change and less cen­tral adi­pos­ity com­pared with a low-fat diet in the long term.

The Mediterranean diet has the poten­tial to reduce abdom­i­nal adi­pos­ity, in par­tic­u­lar meta­bol­i­cally detri­men­tal vis­ceral fat, inde­pen­dently of weight loss, and can be rec­om­mended as a healthy diet choice to indi­vid­u­als with obe­sity and over­weight, par­tic­u­larly at risk of car­dio­vas­cu­lar and meta­bolic dis­ease,” the researchers wrote.

The Mediterranean diet may be more effec­tive in Southern European pop­u­la­tions due to bet­ter avail­abil­ity of spe­cific food prod­ucts, cul­tural and other fac­tors,” they added.

Another crit­i­cal health fac­tor of the Mediterranean diet is the com­po­si­tion of its polyphe­nols.

According to the researchers, the plant-based com­po­nents of the Mediterranean diet con­tain polyphe­nols that have been shown to reduce insulin resis­tance and improve car­dio-meta­bolic risk fac­tors.”

In addi­tion, olive oil and low-to-mod­er­ate alco­hol intake (espe­cially red wine) also con­tribute to the ben­e­fits of the Mediterranean diet via their polyphe­nol con­tent,” they added.

The results of the meta-study are likely to be her­alded as good news in the fight against the global obe­sity pan­demic. Obesity is asso­ci­ated with a high risk of mor­bid­ity and mor­tal­ity from dif­fer­ent non-com­mu­ni­ca­ble dis­eases.

Of inter­est, the neg­a­tive effects of obe­sity are reversed in part with sub­stan­tial weight loss,” the researchers wrote. The com­po­si­tion of the Mediterranean diet has been related to an excel­lent effect on reduc­ing dys­lipi­demia.”

Additionally, [the diet] pos­i­tively mod­u­lates the gut micro­biota and immune sys­tem, sig­nif­i­cantly decreas­ing inflam­ma­tion medi­a­tors, com­mon ground for many obe­sity-related dis­or­ders,” they con­cluded. The Mediterranean diet is the health­i­est dietary pat­tern avail­able to pre­vent sev­eral non-com­mu­ni­ca­ble dis­eases, includ­ing car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease and type 2 dia­betes.”


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