Adherence to a Mediterranean diet and risk of diabetes: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Public Health Nutr. 2015 May;18(7):1292-9. doi: 10.1017/S1368980014001542. Epub 2014 Aug 22.


Objective: Adherence to a Mediterranean diet is associated with significant improvements in health status. However, to date no systematic review and meta-analysis has summarized the effects of Mediterranean diet adherence on the risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus.

Design: Electronic searches for randomized controlled trials and cohort studies were performed in MEDLINE, SCOPUS, EMBASE and the Cochrane Trial Register until 2 April 2014. Pooled effects were calculated by an inverse-variance random-effect meta-analysis using the statistical software Review Manager 5.2 by the Cochrane Collaboration.

Setting: Meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials and cohort studies.

Eligibility criteria: 19+years of age.

Results: One randomized controlled trial and eight prospective cohort studies (122 810 subjects) published between 2007 and 2014 were included for meta-analysis. For highest v. lowest adherence to the Mediterranean diet score, the pooled risk ratio was 0.81 (95 % CI 0.73, 0.90, P<0.0001, I 2=55 %). Sensitivity analysis including only long-term studies confirmed the results of the primary analysis (pooled risk ratio=0.75; 95 % CI 0.68, 0.83, P<0.00001, I 2=0 %). The Egger regression test provided no evidence of substantial publication bias (P=0.254).

Conclusions: Greater adherence to a Mediterranean diet is associated with a significant reduction in the risk of diabetes (19 %; moderate quality evidence). These results seem to be clinically relevant for public health, in particular for encouraging a Mediterranean-like dietary pattern for primary prevention of type 2 diabetes mellitus.

Keywords: Systematic review.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Cohort Studies
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / epidemiology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / prevention & control*
  • Diet, Mediterranean*
  • Evidence-Based Medicine*
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Nutrition Policy*
  • Patient Compliance*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Risk