The current pandemic of obesity constitutes a major public health issue around the world, given its association with disabling chronic conditions and increased mortality. The prevalence of obesity has gone up dramatically since 1975, with an estimated 3-fold increase worldwide, mainly due to sedentary lifestyles and unhealthy dietary patterns.
Obesity is a major risk factor contributing to pathological aging, cardiovascular disease, and cancer. Regarding protective interventions, the adoption of the Mediterranean diet (Med Diet), who is known for its distinctive use of olive oil as its main source of fat, is inversely associated with overweight and obesity. A recent review summarizes the evidence regarding the negative association between high adherence to the Med Diet and overweight and obesity. It also mentions trials, such as the PREDIMED and the CORDIPREV trials, that have shown clear cardiovascular benefits of the Med Diet, and that additionally bring forth promising results in terms of weight loss and weight control over time. Regarding adiposity, a dietary intervention involving the Med Diet and the consumption of almonds, showed a reduction of central adiposity, along with the expression of several genes implicated in fat metabolism in visceral adipose tissue.
Obesity is also an important risk factor for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). In fact, evidence supports a bidirectional link between both conditions, as sleep disorders also trigger further metabolic dysregulations. Consequently, a person suffering for OSA is at risk for cardiometabolic morbidity. The MIMOSA trial aimed to assess the long-term efficacy of a lifestyle intervention (combining a Med Diet with behavioral counseling in favor of healthy lifestyle habits) on cardiometabolic manifestations in overweight patients with OSA. This was done by including a follow-up phase to evaluate the sustainability of cardiometabolic changes after the completion of the intervention. The results showed that the beneficial changes achieved after the 1-year lifestyle intervention were sustained 6 months post-intervention, suggesting that lifestyle modifications, including the adoption of a Med Diet, constitute a propitious line of action for the treatment of OSA.
In summary, with all the points addressed in this newsletter, the Mediterranean diet stands as a promising strategy to prevent and treat obesity and its associated health consequences.
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