The Eurecat technology center is leading the MED4Youth project , which will carry out a clinical study at a European level with the aim of strengthening the link between the Mediterranean Diet and the benefits it has for health and, in addition, dealing with youth obesity and the factors of risk of associated cardiovascular disease (CVD). The project also studies whether the effects of this eating pattern are associated with changes in the intestinal microbiota and metabolites derived from the intestine.
The study will last four months and will be carried out with 240 obese adolescents between 13 and 17 years old from Spain, Portugal and Italy. For the first time, "a study of this nature will be carried out with participants from different Mediterranean countries", explained the project coordinator, Aurora Sesé.
In the framework of the research, omics technologies will be used that “will allow to know in more depth the mechanisms through which the Mediterranean diet exerts its healthy effects, based on the analysis of bacterial populations and metabolites present in the intestine”, stated the main researcher of the project, Antoni Caimari, director of the Eurecat Biotechnology Area.
"The study will be completed with an educational web application to promote and maintain healthy behaviors," said Sesé.
According to Caimari, the project also aims to "boost the production and consumption of traditionally Mediterranean healthy products, favoring long-term sustained demand, promoting the competitiveness of industries in the agri-food sector and reinforcing local production systems."
Youth obesity has quadrupled in the last 30 years, representing 18% of children and adolescents between 5 and 19 years of age who are overweight or obese, according to 2016 data from the World Health Organization (WHO), with a particularly high incidence of highest in Mediterranean countries such as Italy, Spain and Portugal.
Increasing rates of diabetes, hypercholesterolemia, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease or hypertension are associated with obesity, which are risk factors for the development of cardiovascular diseases in adulthood.
The MED4Youth project consortium, coordinated by the Eurecat technology center, also includes the participation of the University of Parma (Italy), the University of Coimbra (Portugal), Shikma Field Crops (Israel), Scientific Food Center (Jordan) and Panishop -Novapan (Spain). The project also has the collaboration of the Selva del Camp Agricultural Cooperative (COSELVA), which will supply the nuts to the participants.
The project is part of the PRIMA program, which has the support of the European Union and ACCIÓ, the CDTI, the Israel Innovation Agency, the Italian Ministry of Education, the University and Research (MIUR), the Fund for Support for Scientific Research in Jordan and the Foundation for Science and Technology of Portugal (FCT).