The project, undertaken by a network of scientists coordinated by Professor Miguel Ángel Martínez of the University of Navarra, arose in 2003 thanks to financing from the Carlos III Health Institute (ISCIII), and is currently being funded through two ISCIII initiatives, the Biomedical Research Centre-Physiopathology of Obesity and Nutrition (CIBERobn) consortium and the PREDIMED team.
“The results obtained contradict the paradigm of the ‘low-fat diet’ which is mistakenly invoked for prevention”, highlights Mr Miguel Ángel Martínez. The results of the research were presented in Madrid and in Loma Linda (California), the venue for the 6th International Congress on Nutrition.
Largest clinical trials in Spain: 7,500 participants and 20 million data
With the PREDIMED research (www.predimed.es) 19 scientific teams from Andalucía, Baleares, the Canary Islands, Catalonia, Navarre, the Basque Country and Valencia took part; more than 20 million data items have been recorded from 200 health centres throughout Spain. In the sample 7,447 personas (57% women and 43% men) were involved, all asymptomatic but at high cardiovascular risk, and between the ages of 55 and 80.
It involves the largest clinical trials in Spanish research and one of the most important worldwide on nutrition, the aim being to evaluate whether the Mediterranean diet, enriched with virgin extra olive oil or nuts, can avoid the onset of cardiovascular-linked diseases (cardiovascular death, myocardial infarction and/or cerebral vascular accident) compared to a low-fat diet.
Also evaluated as secondary variables were the effects of the Mediterranean diet on overall mortality and rates of cardiac insufficiency, diabetes, cancer, cognitive deterioration and other neurodegenerative illnesses. “Today more than ever, in times of budget cuts, it is necessary to reflect on the advantages of encouraging healthy life styles such as the Mediterranean one and the use of simple preventive interventions which make our health system sustainable”, pointed out Mr. Martínez.
In the view of the University of Navarra professor, “what this involves is retrieving the lifestyle of our parents and grandparents and turn our backs on those new fads imported from other countries and which can be seen not to be healthy”.