Adherence to the Mediterranean Diet and Its Association with Body Composition and Physical Fitness in Spanish University Students.

Nutrients. 2019;11(11)

Plain language summary

The Mediterranean diet (MD) represents a dietary pattern that incorporates healthy traditional eating habits which includes high consumption of vegetables, fruit, legumes, nuts, beans, whole grains, fish, and unsaturated fats, and low consumption of red meat and dairy products. The Mediterranean Diet Adherence Screener (MEDAS-14 items) is a valid instrument for the estimation of adherence to the MD. The objectives of this study were to: 1. Estimate the prevalence of the adherence to the MD 2. Assess the association of adherence to the MD with physical fitness and body composition 3. Know the ability of each MEDAS item in the same sample to predict MD adherence. This study is a cross-sectional observational study which was performed with 310 first-year Spanish university students, aged between 18 and 30 years. Results indicate low prevalence of good adherence to the MD; and the participants with good adherence had high protein and low-fat intake compared to those with medium to low adherence. Furthermore, higher levels of physical fitness were also noticed amongst participants with good adherence to the MD. Twelve of the 14 items of the MEDAS score were associated with a high adherence to the MD. Authors conclude that MD adherence benefits both cardiorespiratory and muscular fitness amongst young adults.


undefined: The aims of this study were to assess the association of adherence to the Mediterranean diet (MD) with physical fitness and body composition in Spanish university students and to determine the ability to predict the MD adherence of each Mediterranean Diet Adherence Screener (MEDAS) item. A cross-sectional study was performed involving 310 first-year university students. Adherence to the MD was evaluated with MEDAS-14 items. Anthropometric variables, body composition, and physical fitness were assessed. Muscle strength was determined based on handgrip strength and the standing long jump test. Cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) was measured using the Course-Navette test. Only 24% of the university students had good adherence to the MD. The ANCOVA models showed a significant difference between participants with high adherence to the MD and those with medium and low adherence in CRF ( = 0.017) and dynamometry ( = 0.005). Logistic binary regression showed that consuming >2 vegetables/day (OR = 20.1; CI: 10.1-30.1; < 0.001), using olive oil (OR = 10.6; CI: 1.4-19.8; = 0.021), consuming <3 commercial sweets/week (OR = 10.1; IC: 5.1-19.7; < 0.001), and consuming ≥3 fruits/day (OR = 8.8; CI: 4.9-15.7; < 0.001) were the items most associated with high adherence to the MD. In conclusion, a high level of adherence to the MD is associated with high-level muscular fitness and CRF in Spanish university students.

Lifestyle medicine

Fundamental Clinical Imbalances : Structural
Environmental Inputs : Diet ; Nutrients ; Physical exercise
Personal Lifestyle Factors : Nutrition ; Exercise and movement
Functional Laboratory Testing : Imaging

Methodological quality

Allocation concealment : Not applicable
Publication Type : Journal Article