J Nutr Health Aging. 2022;26(6):621-627. doi: 10.1007/s12603-022-1811-y.
OBJECTIVES: Extending healthy life expectancy (HALE), defined as the average number of years that a person can expect to live in “full health” by taking into account years lived in less than full health due to disease and/or injury, is a common topic worldwide. This study aims to clarify the relationships between the Mediterranean diet score (MDS) and life expectancy (LE) and HALE globally using publicly available international data.
SETTING: Analyses were conducted on 130 countries with populations of 1 million or more for which all data were available. Individual countries were scored from 0 to 9 to indicate adherence to the Mediterranean diet according to the MDS scoring method. The supply of vegetables, legumes, fruits and nuts, cereals, fish, and olive oil per 1,000 kcal per country was calculated based on the Food and Agriculture Organization Corporate Statistical Database, with a score of 1 for above the median and 0 for below. The same method was used to calculate scores of presumed detrimental components (meat and dairy), with consumption below the median given a value of 1, and consumption above the median given a value of 0. For ethanol, a score of 1 was given for 10g to 50 g of consumption. We investigated the cross-sectional associations between the MDS and LE and HALE at birth in 2009, and the longitudinal associations between the MDS in 2009 and LE and HALE between 2009 and 2019, controlling for covariates at baseline using linear mixed models.
RESULTS: In the cross-sectional analysis, the MDS was significantly positively associated with LE (β=0.906 [95% confidence interval, 0.065-1.747], p=0.037) and HALE (β=0.875 [0.207-1.544], p=0.011) after controlling for all covariates. The longitudinal analysis also revealed significantly positive associations between the MDS and LE (0.621 [0.063-1.178], p=0.030) and HALE (0.694 [0.227-1.161], p=0.004) after controlling for all covariates.
CONCLUSION: The present study, based on an analysis using 10 years of international data, showed that countries with a higher MDS showed a positive association with HALE.