(HealthDay News) — For children, high adherence to a Mediterranean diet is inversely associated with overweight, including obesity, according to a study presented at the annual European Congress on Obesity, held from May 28–31 in Sofia, Bulgaria.

Gianluca Tognon, PhD, from the University of Gothenburg in Sweden, and colleagues examined the popularity of the Mediterranean-like dietary pattern among European children and its association with overweight and obesity. Weight, height, waist circumference, and skinfolds were measured at baseline and after two years in 16,220 and 9,114 children, respectively, from eight European countries. A parental food frequency questionnaire and single 24-hour dietary recall were used to evaluate diet. Food frequencies were used to calculate the Mediterranean diet score (MDS).

The researchers found that, independent of age, sex, socioeconomic status, and country, there was an inverse correlation for high MDS with overweight, including obesity (odds ratio, 0.85) and percent fat mass (β, −0.22). High changes in body mass index, waist circumference, and waist-to-height ratio were inversely predicted by high MDS at baseline (odds ratios, 0.87, 0.87, and 0.88, respectively).

“Considering its potential beneficial effects on obesity prevention, this dietary pattern should be part of European Union obesity prevention strategies, and its promotion should be particularly intense in those countries where low levels of adherence are detected,” the authors note in a concluding statement.

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