High variability of food and nutrient intake exists across the Mediterranean Dietary Pattern- a systematic review

Asmaa Abdelhamid, Amy Jennings, Richard P. G. Hayhoe, Veronica E. Awuzudike, Ailsa A. Welch (Lead Author)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)
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A Mediterranean style dietary pattern (MDP) is considered beneficial for health. The MD Score (MDS) definition has evolved, resulting in considerable variability in the foods and nutrients associated with MDS adherence. We systematically investigated food and nutrient composition of the MD between studies, countries, and methods of classifying the MDS. We searched Embase for MD systematic reviews and selected observational studies reporting intakes of foods, macronutrients, or micronutrients by categories of MDS adherence. The percentage differences in food and nutrient intakes between categories of high and low adherence to the MDS were calculated for each study. A total of 369 full-text primary papers were reviewed from the included systematic reviews and 74 papers selected (66 adults, 8 children). We found considerable differences in MDS definitions and scoring criteria. Between-study variation in food intake between high- and low-adherence MDS adherence categories ranged from a mean of −23% for meat, to 119% for fruit, and 278% for fish. Greater variability was evident in non-Mediterranean than Mediterranean regions. We conclude that few studies report food and nutrient intakes across the range of the MDP in adults and even fewer in children. The considerable variability in the foods and nutrients reported makes comparison of results from studies and translation into dietary guidelines difficult. We recommend that future publications of MD studies include full details of the range of food and nutrient intakes across the distribution of MD adherence in order to facilitate translation into health policy and practice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4907-4918
Number of pages12
JournalFood Science and Nutrition
Issue number9
Early online date29 Jul 2020
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2020


  • Mediterranean Diet
  • Mediterranean Diet score
  • dietary patterns
  • food groups
  • macronutrients
  • micronutrients
  • review

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