Benefits of Med Diet Questioned

January 11/Malaga, Spain/Hindustan Times -- A long-held belief that people in the Mediterranean enjoy more healthy diets and lifestyles has been questioned by a Spanish study.

"Cardiovascular diseases account for 33% of deaths in Spain, making it the main cause of mortality in the country," said Ricardo Gomez-Huelgas from the Internal Medicine Department at Hospital Carlos Haya, Malaga.

The study was carried out on a random selection of 2,270 adults attending a healthcare centre in Malaga, Andalucia. The participants ranged from 18-80, with an average of just under 44 years, 50.3% were female and 58% had low educational levels.

More than 60% were overweight or obese, and 77% did not get enough exercise. The researchers also found that 28% smoked, 33% had high blood pressure, 7% had diabetes and 65% had high cholesterol levels.

Just under 30% of the patients had three or more cardiovascular risk factors that could be modified by changes to their lifestyle or diet.

"Most of the cardiovascular risk factors increased with age, with the exception of smoking and low levels of 'good' cholesterol, and we noted some differences between the sexes," said Gomez-Huelgas.

"We also found that a low education level was associated with a high prevalence of cardiovascular risk factors and this association was significant when it came to smoking, obesity, abdominal obesity and high levels of fatty molecules.

"The prevalence of obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol in Spain have all risen at an alarming rate over the last 20 years and this is likely to cause future increases in bad health and death due to cardiovascular disease," he said.

The findings were published in the International Journal of Clinical Practice.

From the January 24, 2011, Prepared Foods E-dition