The relationship between Mediterranean diet adherence, perceived Mediterranean diet adherence, body composition and physical activity levels in a Scottish student population.
Introduction: Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a leading cause of premature mortality in Scotland and is an independent factor for many chronic diseases. Dietary patterns and lifestyle behaviours are recognised as key determinants for adverse health outcomes. Epidemiological studies report that in areas that follow traditional Mediterranean dietary patterns lower rates of chronic disease including CVD have been observed. Recent studies report associations between Mediterranean diet adherence and CVD risk factors such as body composition and physical activity levels, however no such studies have been conducted in a Scottish university population. Aim: The aim of the present study was to investigate the relationship between Mediterranean diet adherence, self-perceived Mediterranean diet adherence, body composition and physical activity levels. Method: A cross-sectional study was conducted in a cohort of 20-52-year-old student participants (n=20) from Queen Margaret University. Mediterranean diet scores (MDS) were obtained using a validated MDS tool questionnaire, self-perceived adherence to a Mediterranean diet was obtained using a Mediterranean diet pyramid and questionnaire. Physical activity levels were self-reported and obtained using the IPAQ long form questionnaire. Participants Anthropometric measurements (height, weight, waist circumference and BMI) were obtained by two researchers following strict protocol. Results: Twenty university student participants with a mean age of 25.50 (±8.55) participated in this study. Among the population, 65% (n=13) were classified as high adherers to a Mediterranean diet, whilst 35% (n=7) were classified as low adherers to a Mediterranean diet. No statistically significant differences were found between Mediterranean diet adherence and body composition, or physical activity as p>0.05 for all parameters. Mediterranean diet adherence was positively associated with perceived adherence to the Mediterranean diet (r=0.564, p=0.01). Conclusion: This study was the first to investigate Mediterranean diet adherence and its relationship with perceived Mediterranean diet adherence, body composition and physical activity level in a Scottish university student population. Results were largely inconsistent with the literature; no significant differences were observed between those who adhere to a Mediterranean diet and those who do not, however a significant difference and association was found between Mediterranean diet adherence and perceived diet adherence. KEY WORDS: Mediterranean diet, Mediterranean diet adherence, Cardiovascular disease, body composition, physical activity