MED4Youth Concept

Tackling youth obesity with an energy-restricted Mediterranean Diet

MED4Youth will carry out a clinical trial to assess the effects of an energy-restricted Mediterranean Diet compared with the effects of a low conventional low-fat diet to demonstrate the higher effectiveness of Mediterranean Diet to tackle youth obesity and associated cardiovascular factors.

The project will use omics technologies to elucidate whether the changes in classical anthropometric and biochemical parameters are associated with a modulation of gut microbiota and gut-derived metabolism, which will allow to gain scientific knowledge about the mechanisms through which the Mediterranean Diet can exert its health effects.

In addition, the use of a systems biology approach will allow to identify a combination of biomarkers that accurately characterises the changes induced by the Mediterranean Diet intervention.

Decrease in BMI z score and waist circumference

10% difference in WHO-5 Well-being index before and after the intervention

Achieve at the end of the study an average KidMed Score >8 points within the Mediterranean Diet group

Analysis of microbial-derived metabolites (SCFA, organic acids, TMAO, LPS, bile acids) and in microbial genera (Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium)

Robust associations between the circulating biomarkers of, at least, 2-3 specific products associated with the Mediterranean Diet

The study

240 volunteers from three Mediterranean countries will participate in the study (80 in each country). Volunteers will be assigned to one of the two intervention groups for a 4-month period:

  • Mediterranean Diet group – this group will be instructed to follow an energy-restricted Mediterranean Diet that will incorporate sourdough bread, hummus, pomegranate and mixed nuts.

  • Low-fat Diet group – this group will follow a diet based on a low consumption of fats. Low-fat diet is the most used diet for obesity treatments in adolescents.

The dietary requirements will be complemented by a web-application, which will be use to collect participants’ adherence to the Mediterranean Diet (KidMed questionnaire), food habit/intakes (FFQ/food diaries) and physical activity level (PAQ-A questionnaire).

To evaluate adolescents’ knowledge about food and nutrition, a specifically designed self-compliable questionnaire will be administered before and after the four-month intervention. This data will be cross-matched with anthropometric and food intake data to assess possible association between these variables.