Given the lack of consistent evidence of the relationship between Mediterranean dietary patterns and body fat, we assessed the cross-sectional association between adherence to a modified Mediterranean diet, BMI, and waist circumference (WC). A total of 497,308 individuals (70.7% women) aged 25-70 y from 10 European countries participated in this study. Diet was assessed at baseline using detailed validated country-specific questionnaires, and anthropometrical measurements were collected using standardized procedures. The association between the degree of adherence to the modified-Mediterranean Diet Score (mMDS) (including high consumption of vegetables, legumes, fruits and nuts, cereals, fish and seafood, and unsaturated:saturated fatty acids ratio; moderate alcohol intake; and low consumption of meat and meat products and dairy products) and BMI (kg.m(-2)) or WC (cm) was modeled through mixed-effects linear regression, controlling for potential confounders. Overall, the mMDS was not significantly associated with BMI. Higher adherence to the Mediterranean diet was significantly associated with lower WC, for a given BMI, in both men (-0.09; 95% CI -0.14 to -0.04) and women (-0.06; 95% CI -0.10 to -0.01). The association was stronger in men (-0.20; 95% CI -0.23 to -0.17) and women (-0.17; 95% CI -0.21 to -0.13) from Northern European countries. Despite the observed heterogeneity among regions, results of this study suggest that adherence to a modified Mediterranean diet, high in foods of vegetable origin and unsaturated fatty acids, is associated with lower abdominal adiposity measured by WC in European men and women.

Original publication




Journal article


J Nutr

Publication Date





1728 - 1737


Abdominal Fat, Adiposity, Adult, Aged, Body Mass Index, Cohort Studies, Cross-Sectional Studies, Diet, Diet, Mediterranean, Europe, Female, Geography, Humans, Linear Models, Male, Middle Aged, Obesity, Prospective Studies, Waist Circumference