Measurements of skeletal muscle mass and power are positively related to a Mediterranean dietary pattern in women

E. Kelaiditi, A. Jennings, C. J. Steves, J. Skinner, A. Cassidy, A. J. MacGregor, A. A. Welch

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Summary: The age-related loss of skeletal muscle and function are risk factors for osteoporosis and fractures. We found that higher adherence to the Mediterranean diet score was significantly associated with greater fat-free mass and leg explosive power suggesting a role for the Mediterranean Diet in prevention of loss of muscle outcomes. 

Introduction: The loss of skeletal muscle mass, strength, and function with age are contributing risk factors for the onset of sarcopenia, frailty, osteoporosis, fractures, and mortality. Nutrition may affect the progression and trajectory of these changes in skeletal muscle but the role of the micronutrient-rich Mediterranean diet (MD) has hardly been investigated in relation to these muscle outcomes. 

Methods: We examined associations between the MD score (MDS) and FFM% (fat-free mass / weight × 100), FFMI (fat-free mass/height2), hand grip strength, and leg explosive power (LEP, watts/kg) in a cross-sectional study in 2570 women aged 18–79 years from the TwinsUK study. Measurements of body composition were made using dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry and dietary intake assessed by a food frequency questionnaire. FFM%, FFMI, grip strength, and LEP were compared across quartiles of the MDS after adjustment for covariates, with CRP measured in a subgroup (n = 1658). 

Results: Higher adherence to the MDS was positively associated with measurements of muscle outcomes, with significant differences of 1.7 % for FFM% and 9.6 % for LEP (P trend <0.001), comparing extreme quartiles of intake, but not with grip strength or CRP concentrations. 

Conclusions: For the first time in a northern European population, we have observed significant positive associations between the MDS and FFM% and LEP in healthy women that are potentially clinically relevant, independent of the factors known to influence muscle outcomes. Our findings emphasize the potential role for overall diet quality based on the MD in the prevention of age-related loss of skeletal muscle outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3251–3260
Number of pages10
JournalOsteoporosis International
Issue number11
Early online date14 Jul 2016
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2016


  • C-reactive protein
  • Fat-free mass
  • Mediterranean diet
  • Skeletal muscle mass
  • Skeletal muscle power

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