European Congress on Obesity

European Congress on Obesity

May 29, 2018
2 min read

Identifying Mediterranean-diet adhering populations may temper obesity crisis

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Meifang Chen
Meifang Chen

Adherence to a Mediterranean diet varies greatly across the United States, and pinpointing the areas where residents are most likely to follow such a dietary plan may aid in public health policy making, according to study findings presented at the European Congress on Obesity annual meeting.

“Given the skyrocketing obesity rates in the U.S. over the past few decades, identifying and promoting obesity-modifying dietary approaches is a top priority,” Meifang Chen, PhD, MPH, CHES, assistant professor in the department of public health at California State University, Los Angeles, told Endocrine Today. “Our study identifies and characterizes locations and at-risk populations across the U.S. where Mediterranean-diet-promoting interventions and policies might have the greatest effect in combating the obesity.”

Researchers assessed dietary data from 20,897 U.S. adults aged at least 45 years who had completed a baseline dietary assessment between January 2003 and October 2007 as part of the national Reasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke (REGARDS) study. Researchers calculated a Mediterranean-diet adherence score (from 0 to 9, with higher score indicating greater adherence) by using the self-administered Block 98 Food Frequency Questionnaire (FFQ). Researchers used the Getis-Ord Gi* statistic in ArcGIS 10.4 to conduct a “hot spot analysis” and examine the spatial distribution and pattern of Mediterranean-diet adherence. Researchers also compared community characteristics of participants in each clustered group. Researchers used logistic regression models to investigate predictors of a high Mediterranean-diet adherence score.

The mean Mediterranean-diet adherence score was 4.36, with 46.5% of participants showing high adherence. The western and northeastern coastal areas of the U.S. had higher Mediterranean-diet adherence clusters than the South and East North central regions. Higher Mediterranean-diet adherence clusters were found in urban areas with residents of greater socioeconomic status. Lower Mediterranean-diet adherence occurred in socioeconomically disadvantaged, rural, minority neighborhoods. Researchers also found that being older, black, not a smoker, having a college degree, having an annual income of at least $75,000 and exercising at least four times a week, increased the odds of a high Mediterranean-diet adherence score.

“Further studies may examine local individual and contextual factors, such as food-related culture, zoning policy and public transportation, which could uncover useful information to better understand the geospatial cluttering of Mediterranean-diet adherence and help develop more geographically and population-tailored interventions and policies,” Chen said. – by Melissa J. Webb


Chen M, et al. Abstract T2P113. Presented at: European Congress on Obesity; May 23-26, 2018; Vienna.

Disclosure: Chen reports no relevant financial disclosures.