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The Mediterranean Diet

Updated: Jul 10, 2021

In 2003 I published my first article looking at the benefits of a high fat, plant-based diet. Since then my interest in the Mediterranean lifestyle has featured widely in my research as well as in my own life. Below is the abstract of the article and the link to the full article and references is included


In recent years there has been a dramatic increase in messages about dietary approaches to prevent weight gain or assist with weight loss, particularly about the need to reduce dietary fat intake. These messages have been strengthened by multiple trials that have found that reducing dietary fat intake results in modest weight loss.

In response to the rise in public awareness about dietary fat and calls from the nutrition community for more reduced-fat (RF) options, the market has been flooded

with products with RF claims. At the same time, messages promoting a high intake of monounsaturated or poly-unsaturated fat for the prevention of cardiovascular disease have been constrained for fear of promoting obesity.


In the USA, the parallel trends of increasing availability and consumption of low-fat foods, increasing intake of total energy (but not of dietary fat) and increasing obesity

prevalence have been dubbed the ‘American paradox’. However, the phenomenon is not restricted to the USA and is also seen in Australia.


Several well-controlled studies have explored the mechanisms by which dietary fat intake might influence body weight. A consensus seems to be emerging that

the principal mechanism is that diets high in fat are usually energy-dense and that it is the energy density (ED) that promotes ‘passive over-consumption’ of total energy and

thus weight gain. If fat content and ED become dissociated, in other words lose their usual positive relationship, then the usual positive relationship between fat intake and weight gain may also become dissociated.


We hypothesised that two common types of food, products with RF claims and high-fat (HF) vegetable-based dishes, would not exhibit the usual relationships between

ED and percentage energy as fat or carbohydrate. We examined the relationships of these foods in the context of the same relationships within the Australian diet. A

secondary aim was to examine whether the reduction in fat content in the RF products was associated with a proportional reduction in ED.


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