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Negative Association Between Mediterranean Diet Adherence and COVID-19 Cases and Related Deaths in Spain and 23 OECD Countries: An Ecological Study

Greene et al., Frontiers in Nutrition, doi:10.3389/fnut.2021.591964
Mar 2021  
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Analysis of 17 regions in Spain, showing an inverse association between adherence to the Mediterranean diet and COVID-19 cases and mortality.
Greene et al., 5 Mar 2021, peer-reviewed, 3 authors.
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Negative Association Between Mediterranean Diet Adherence and COVID-19 Cases and Related Deaths in Spain and 23 OECD Countries: An Ecological Study
Michael W Greene, Alexis P Roberts, Andrew D Frugé
Frontiers in Nutrition, doi:10.3389/fnut.2021.591964
In December 2019, the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-Cov2) emerged in Wuhan, China, sparking the Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. The high prevalence of nutrition-related COVID-19 risk factors including obesity, type 2 diabetes, and hypertension, suggests that healthy dietary approaches may mitigate COVID-19 related outcomes and possibly SARS-CoV-2 infection. Based on the fundamental role of nutrition in immune function and the well-documented association between Mediterranean diet consumption and risk reduction for chronic diseases that are comorbidities in COVID-19 patients, we hypothesized that there would be a relationship between Mediterranean diet adherence and COVID-19 cases and related deaths. In this perspective, we examined the association between regional adherence to a Mediterranean diet and COVID-19 cases and deaths using an ecological study design. We observed that Mediterranean diet adherence was negatively associated with both COVID-19 cases and related deaths across 17 regions in Spain and that the relationship remained when adjusted for factors of well-being. We also observed a negative association between Mediterranean diet adherence and COVID-19 related deaths across 23 countries when adjusted for factors of well-being and physical inactivity. The anti-inflammatory properties of the Mediterranean diet -likely due to the polyphenol content of the diet -may be a biological basis to explain our findings. However, there are confounding factors unrelated to dietary factors driving COVID-19 cases and related deaths across the regions in Spain and the 23 countries examined in our analysis. Our findings will need to be confirmed and further explored in cohort studies.
AUTHOR CONTRIBUTIONS MG conceived of the work, performed data and statistical analysis, contributed to the writing, and offered critical comments. AR performed data analysis, wrote the first draft of the manuscript, and provided critical revisions to the content. AF provided critical revisions to the content. All authors contributed to the article and approved the submitted version. Conflict of Interest: The authors declare that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest.
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