Quantifying the benefits of Mediterranean diet in terms of survival

Eur J Epidemiol. 2016 May;31(5):527-30. doi: 10.1007/s10654-016-0127-9. Epub 2016 Feb 5.


Beneficial effects of Mediterranean diet (MD) have been consistently documented. However, to fully understand the public health implications of MD adherence, an informative step is to quantify these effects in terms of survival time differences. The aim of this study was to evaluate the impact of MD on survival, presenting results in terms of differences in median age at death. We used data from 71,333 participants from a large population-based cohort of Swedish men and women, followed-up between January 1, 1998, and December 31, 2012. A total score of MD, ranging from 0 to 8, was calculated by including information on vegetables and fruits consumption, legumes and nuts, non-refined/high fiber grains, fermented dairy products, fish, red meat, use of olive oil/rapeseed oil, and moderate alcohol intake. Multivariable-adjusted differences in median age at death were estimated with Laplace regression and presented as a function of the MD score. During 15 years of follow-up we documented 14,697 deaths. We observed a linear dose-response association between the MD score and median age at death, with higher score associated with longer survival. The difference in median age at death between participants with the extreme scores (0 vs 8) of MD was up to 2 years (23 months, 95 % CI: 16-29). In this study we documented that adherence to MD may accrue benefits up to 2 years of longer survival.

Keywords: Mediterranean diet; Mortality; Percentile; Survival.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cohort Studies
  • Diet, Mediterranean*
  • Dietary Fiber
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Fruit
  • Humans
  • Life Style
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mortality*
  • Nuts
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Survival Rate*
  • Sweden / epidemiology
  • Vegetables