Childhood obesity is a worldwide epidemic. Mediterranean diet (MD) is inversely associated with childhood obesity, but the interaction with other environmental factors, such screen time, might influence the health benefits of a high MD adherence in adolescents. The aim of the present study was to assess whether an association between MD and screen time exists in European adolescents. Moreover, we also explored whether sedentary time has a modulatory effect on the association between MD and adiposity. Adherence to the MD (24 h recalls), screen time (questionnaire), pubertal development, body mass index (BMI), fat mass index (FMI) and waist circumference (WC) were evaluated in 2053 adolescents (54.7% females), aged 12.5-17.5 years. In females, MD adherence was associated with lower BMI and FMI only when they were exposed to less than 338 min/day of screen time (81.8% of females); MD adherence was also associated with lower WC only when females were exposed to less than 143 min/day of screen time (31.5% of females). No significant MD-screen time interaction was observed in males. In conclusion, screen-time-based sedentary behaviours had a modulatory effect in the association between MD adherence and adiposity in European female adolescents.
Keywords: Mediterranean diet; adiposity; adolescents; gender and HELENA; sedentary time.