Protective effects of a Mediterranean-like dietary pattern on obesity, abdominal obesity and large neck circumference in a cohort of Turkish children aged 6-9 years

Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2020;29(2):363-371. doi: 10.6133/apjcn.202007_29(2).0019.


Background and objectives: This study evaluated the association of the Mediterranean Diet Quality Index (KIDMED index) with neck circumference, obesity, and abdominal obesity in a national sample of Turkish children aged 6-9 years. It was hypothesized that the Mediterranean diet has beneficial effects on BMI and waist and neck circumferences in children.

Methods and study design: The study sample consisted of 900 children aged 6-9 years recruited from seven primary schools in Ünye District in Ordu, Turkey. Anthropometric data were collected. The KIDMED score was used to assess the children's adherence to the Mediterranean diet.

Results: Compared with girls, a higher percentage of boys were obese (27.9% vs 22.2%), and the KIDMED score differed between boys (4.89±2.0) and girls (5.27±2.48; p<0.05). Only 18.7% of children had optimal KIDMED scores, and 35.7% had poor KIDMED scores. Compared with boys and girls with medium and optimal KIDMED scores, boys and girls with poor KIDMED scores had higher body weight, height, BMI, and waist and neck circumferences (p<0.05). KIDMED scores of overweight boys and girls were higher than those of obese boys and girls (p<0.05). An inverse correlation was found between KIDMED scores and body weight, BMI, and waist and neck circumferences.

Conclusions: The Mediterranean dietary pattern is significantly associated with improved anthropometric measurements in children. These results demonstrate that providing a diet similar to the Mediterranean diet can prevent obesity and related disorders in children.

MeSH terms

  • Anthropometry
  • Child
  • Cohort Studies
  • Diet, Mediterranean*
  • Feeding Behavior
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neck
  • Obesity, Abdominal / prevention & control
  • Pediatric Obesity / epidemiology*
  • Pediatric Obesity / etiology
  • Pediatric Obesity / prevention & control
  • Sex Factors
  • Turkey / epidemiology
  • Waist Circumference