Objective: To assess the influence of a specific dietary pattern on overall survival.
Design: Cohort study.
Setting: Three rural Greek villages, the data from which were collected as part of an international cross cultural study of food habits in later life.
Subjects: 182 elderly residents of the three villages.
Main outcome measure: Overall mortality.
Results: Diet was assessed with a validated extensive semiquantitative questionnaire on food intake. A one unit increase in diet score, devised a priori on the basis of eight component characteristics of the traditional common diet in the Mediterranean region, was associated with a significant 17% reduction in overall mortality (95% confidence interval 1% to 31%).
Conclusion: A diet meeting currently understood health criteria does predict survival among people.