Lifestyles and risk factors associated with adherence to the Mediterranean diet: a baseline assessment of the PREDIMED trial

PLoS One. 2013 Apr 29;8(4):e60166. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0060166. Print 2013.


Background: The traditional Mediterranean dietary pattern (MedDiet) is associated with longevity and low rates of cardiovascular disease (CVD). However, there is little information on who is more likely to follow this food pattern.

Aim: To evaluate how different factors are associated with lower MedDiet adherence in older Spanish subjects.

Methods: We included 7305 participants (men aged 55-80 y, women 60-80 y) at high-risk of CVD recruited into the PREDIMED trial (ISRCTN35739639). Socioeconomic, anthropometric, lifestyle characteristics and CVD risk factors were recorded. A validated 14-item questionnaire was used to evaluate MedDiet adherence at baseline. Multivariate models were used to estimate odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals for lower adherence to the MedDiet (<9 points out of 14) and ascertain factors independently associated with it.

Results: Former smoking (OR = 0.87; 95% CI, 0.78-0.98), physical activity (OR for the 3(rd) vs. the 1(st)tertile: 0.69; 0.62-0.78), and higher educational level (OR for university vs. less than primary school: 0.54; 0.38-0.77) were associated with higher MedDiet adherence. Conversely, having a larger waist-to-height ratio (OR for 0.1 units, 1.35; 1.22-1.49), being diabetic (OR = 1.13; 1.03-1.24), being single (OR = 1.27; 1.01-1.61) or divorced or separated (OR = 1.44; 1.09-1.89), and current smoking (OR = 1.28; 1.11-1.47) were associated with lower adherence.

Conclusions: Participants with little education, a larger waist-to-height ratio, or diabetes and those who were less physically active, single, divorced or separated, or smokers were less likely to adhere to the MedDiet, an ideal model for food choices. Stronger efforts of health promotion are needed in these groups to foster adoption of the MedDiet.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / psychology
  • Diet, Mediterranean*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Life Style*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Compliance / statistics & numerical data*
  • Residence Characteristics
  • Risk Factors
  • Socioeconomic Factors

Associated data

  • ISRCTN/ISRCTN35739639

Grant support

Supported by the official funding agency for biomedical research of the Spanish government, Instituto de Salud Carlos III (ISCIII), through grants provided to research networks specifically developed for the trial (RTIC G03/140, to Dr. Estruch; RTIC RD 06/0045, to Dr. Martínez-González and through Centro de Investigación Biomédica en Red de Fisiopatología de la Obesidad y Nutrición [CIBERobn]), and by grants from Centro Nacional de Investigaciones Cardiovasculares (CNIC 06/2007), Fondo de Investigación Sanitaria–Fondo Europeo de Desarrollo Regional (PI04-2239, PI 05/2584, CP06/00100, PI07/0240, PI07/1138, PI07/0954, PI 07/0473, PI10/01407, PI10/02658, PI11/01647, and P11/02505), Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación (AGL-2009- 13906-C02, AGL2010-22319-C03 and SAF2009-12304), Fundación Mapfre 2010, Consejería de Salud de la Junta de Andalucía (PI0105/2007), Public Health Division of the Department of Health of the Autonomous Government of Catalonia, Generalitat Valenciana (ACOMP06109, GVACOMP2010-181, GVACOMP2011-151, CS2010- AP-111, CS2011-AP-042, BEST11-263, BEST/2011/261, GVACOMP2011-151, ACOMP/2011/145 and ACOMP/2012/190), and Regional Government of Navarra (P27/2011). Dr. Toledo is supported by a Rio Hortega post-residency fellowship of ISCIII, Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness, Spanish Government and by the Fundacion Mutua Madrileña. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.