The MED4Youth project has the aim to strengthen the link between the Mediterranean Diet and the health benefits against youth obesity and associated cardiovascular disease risk factors. The project has also the objective to elucidate whether the health effects of Mediterranean Diet are associated with changes in gut microbiota and gut-derived metabolites.
Project partners will carry out an interventional study targeting adolescents with obesity from different Mediterranean countries including Mediterranean products such as nuts, pomegranate, chickpeas and sourdough bread. The study will be complemented with an educational web-application to encourage and sustain healthy behaviours.
Youth obesity has more than quadrupled over the past 30 years, being its prevalence particularly higher in Mediterranean countries such as Italy, Portugal and Spain.
Obesity is associated with increasing rates of diabetes, hypercholesterolaemia, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and hypertension, which are risk factors for the development of cardiovascular diseases in adulthood. In 2014, 5% of the deaths worldwide were attributable to obesity. On the other hand, cardiovascular diseases are the world leading cause of death with 17.9 million dead each year (WHO -2017 Facts and figures on childhood obesity).
Obesity in the Mediterranean countries
Source: OECD 2014 Health Statistics
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The study will be combined with an educational web-application designed to encourage healthy behaviours. The MED4Youth app will allow teenagers to learn about health, nutrition and food in general, and specifically about the Mediterranean Diet.
To help engage participants, a “learning-though-playing” approach will be used, combining together educational materials and games.