BACKGROUND: There is an association between a greater adherence to a Mediterranean diet and a reduced risk of developing chronic diseases. However, it is not clear whether this dietary pattern may be protective also against the development of obesity. OBJECTIVE: We assessed the association between the adherence to the Mediterranean dietary pattern (MDP), prospective weight change, and the incidence of overweight or obesity. DESIGN: We conducted a prospective cohort study [the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition-Physical Activity, Nutrition, Alcohol Consumption, Cessation of Smoking, Eating Out of Home, and Obesity (EPIC-PANACEA) project] in 373,803 individuals (103,455 men and 270,348 women; age range: 25-70 y) from 10 European countries. Anthropometric measurements were obtained at recruitment and after a median follow-up time of 5 y. The relative Mediterranean Diet Score (rMED; score range: 0-18) was used to assess adherence to the MDP according to the consumption of 9 dietary components that are characteristic of the Mediterranean diet. The association between the rMED and 5-y weight change was modeled through multiadjusted mixed-effects linear regression. RESULTS: Individuals with a high adherence to the MDP according to the rMED (11-18 points) showed a 5-y weight change of -0.16 kg (95% CI: -0.24, -0.07 kg) and were 10% (95% CI: 4%, 18%) less likely to develop overweight or obesity than were individuals with a low adherence to the MDP (0-6 points). The low meat content of the Mediterranean diet seemed to account for most of its positive effect against weight gain. CONCLUSION: This study shows that promoting the MDP as a model of healthy eating may help to prevent weight gain and the development of obesity.

Original publication




Journal article


Am J Clin Nutr

Publication Date





912 - 921


Adult, Body Mass Index, Body Weight, Cohort Studies, Diet, Mediterranean, Educational Status, Europe, Female, Humans, Male, Middle Aged, Motor Activity, Obesity, Overweight, Patient Compliance, Probability, Prospective Studies, Thinness, Time Factors