Linking Mediterranean Diet and Lifestyle with Cardio Metabolic Disease and Depressive Symptoms: A Study on the Elderly in Europe

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2020 Sep 26;17(19):7053. doi: 10.3390/ijerph17197053.


Against a backdrop of an aging population in Europe, promoting health in older adults becomes a pressing issue. This study aimed to explore if correlations exist between the adherence to the Mediterranean diet and specific health outcomes such as the incidence of chronic cardio metabolic illnesses and experiencing depressive symptoms for elderly individuals. We also looked into probable links between regularly engaging in vigorous physical activities and these health outcomes. Our goal was to clearly demonstrate these relationships while controlling for several individual characteristics and socio-demographic factors on a cross-national scale within Europe. Using the Survey of Health, Aging and Retirement in Europe (SHARE) data for adults aged 50 years and above, we found that following the Mediterranean diet was negatively correlated with the incidence of chronic illnesses, as well as with levels of depressive symptoms. These results were robust to the inclusion of a number of individual and socio-demographic controls. We also showed that regular participation in sports and other strenuous physical activities were associated with lesser chronic disorders and lower levels of depressive symptoms. These findings may have important implications in formulating preventive interventions on ensuring the quality of life of the older population.

Keywords: Mediterranean diet; aging; cardio metabolic disease; dietary patterns; physical activity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Depression / epidemiology*
  • Depression / etiology
  • Diet, Mediterranean*
  • Europe / epidemiology
  • Exercise
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Life Style*
  • Male
  • Metabolic Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Metabolic Diseases / etiology
  • Middle Aged
  • Quality of Life