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Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. 2013 May;23(5):451-8. doi: 10.1016/j.numecd.2011.10.009. Epub 2012 Mar 7.

Similar prediction of total mortality, diabetes incidence and cardiovascular events using relative- and absolute-component Mediterranean diet score: the SUN cohort.

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Geriatric Unit, Department of Internal Medicine and Geriatrics, University of Palermo, via F. Scaduto 6/c, 90144 Palermo, Italy.



Accumulated evidence supports the effectiveness of Mediterranean-type diets (MeDiet) in reducing mortality and preventing several chronic diseases. Widely used scores to assess adherence to MeDiet are based on specific sample characteristics; alternatively, they might be built according to absolute/normative cut-off points for the consumption of specific food groups (pre-defined servings/day or/week). The aim of this study was to compare sample-specific MeDiet adherence scores (MDS) versus absolute-normative scores (Mediterranean Diet Adherence Screener - MEDAS) on their association with macronutrient intake, total mortality and incidence of chronic diseases.


SUN (Seguimiento Universidad de Navarra) dynamic prospective cohort study (60.5% women; mean age 38.4 years).


In cross-sectional analyses (n=20,155) we evaluated macronutrient distribution according to MDS (based on 136-item FFQ), MEDAS (based on 13 questions), and variants of both. In prospective analyses (n=9109; mean follow-up: 6.2 years), we evaluated disease incidence or mortality. Adherence to MeDiet increased with age and, as expected, was associated with higher fiber intake, lower total fat intake but higher monounsaturated/saturated fat ratio, using all scores. Among subjects initially free of cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease (CVD), adherence to MeDiet appraised with an absolute-normative score (MEDAS) similarly predicted macronutrient distribution and disease incidence or mortality (diabetes incidence, CVD or all-cause mortality), when compared to a sample-specific score based on 136-item FFQ (MDS).


Adherence to MeDiet was associated with a decreased incidence of a composite outcome including diabetes incidence, cardiovascular events incidence or all-cause mortality.

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