It is well documented that the Mediterranean diet can be beneficial in the prevention and even in the management of several chronic diseases. However, many people believe that the Mediterranean diet is not necessarily a weight loss diet. Well, in fact there have been several studies that show that it may help with weight management, and with this new study we are finding out that it may even affect body fat percentage.
Body weight does not show you how much body fat you have. Body fat and particularly upper body fat is associated with several health issues. In many cases, a person can have a normal body weight but a high body fat percentage.
In this study, researchers included 248 healthy females aged 18-44 from the BioCycle study for the Division of Epidemiology, Statistics, and Prevention Research, Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. They calculated Mediterranean diet scores, which measured adherence to the diet, and compared that with anthropometry measurements (height, weight etc.) and body fat measurements through dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA), an x-ray scan that measures body fat.
The results showed an inverse relationship between adherence to the Mediterranean diet and most body fat measures. The higher the adherence, the lower certain measurements such as trunk-to-leg fat ratio, which is a measure of upper to lower body, fat. The results were obtained after adjusting for age, race, education, physical activity and energy intake.
The researchers concluded that adherence to the Mediterranean diet was associated with lower total and regional adiposity (body fat), adding to the mounting evidence of the health benefits of the Mediterranean Diet.
Of course it is important to note that this study shows associations not cause. Nevertheless, we know that several components of the Mediterranean diet such as beans, unprocessed carbohydrates and olive oil are associated with lower abdominal fat, making it a good eating pattern for disease prevention and weight control.
The study was published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition.