On the occasion of today's celebration of World Obesity Day, the Spanish Olive Oil Interprofessional has highlighted that the Mediterranean Diet, with extra virgin olive oil as the main source of fat, is an effective and healthy way to lose weight.
Six out of ten Spaniards suffer from weight problems, according to data from the report "The heavy burden of obesity" published in 2019 by the OECD, which reflects that 23.8% of the population of Spain suffers from obesity, one of the great epidemics of the 21st century that affects about 650 million people in the world.
For the Interprofessional, the celebration of World Obesity Day has to lead us to evaluate our lifestyle habits, if we want to reduce the risks to our health as much as possible. Fundamentally, it is about knowing if we have an active life, with the usual practice of physical exercise and, of course, if our diet is healthy and balanced. In this sense, the experts have no doubts that the Mediterranean Diet is one of the healthiest models that is based on a high consumption of vegetables, fruits, legumes, fish, a moderate contribution of meats and with olive oils as the main source of fat.
The organization has stressed that a diet rich in healthy fats, such as those contained in extra virgin olive oil, helps to control our weight, as demonstrated by the PREDIMED Study. Its coordinator, Dr. Ramón Estruch, explained that "when PREDIMED was designed, we saw that 90% of the participants were overweight and obese. We were concerned because, with a Mediterranean Diet supplemented with extra virgin olive oil and nuts, we were giving much more calories than the control group that did not take oil or nuts. We were concerned about what would happen to weight and abdominal circumference, two vascular risk factors. What we have found in a very long follow-up, five years on average, is that people even lost weight in the groups in which they mainly took olive oil and maintained their abdominal perimeter, which is a success from a public health point of view".
Specifically, the 2,543 subjects who followed a Mediterranean Diet supplemented with extra virgin olive oil without restrictions weighed 0.88 kg at the end of the trial (5 years later). less on average than at the beginning of the study. Their abdominal girth increased by 0.85 centimeters, something logical when we see that the participants were between 55 and 80 years old, an age at which there is a notable tendency to gain weight. In comparison, those who followed the same diet supplemented with nuts saw their average weight reduced by 0.40 kg. The 2,450 subjects who followed a low-fat diet experienced a smaller weight loss of 0.60 kg, with an increase in abdominal girth of 1.20 centimeters.
According to Estruch, "obese or overweight people do not have to be afraid of following a Mediterranean Diet, which logically includes extra virgin olive oil and nuts". Not only do they control their weight better than those who eat a low-fat diet, but they also experience a drastic decrease in the risk of suffering a cardiovascular accident or diabetes.
“There are many diets, with results that can be beneficial in the short term. What we have shown is that, in the long term, the best diet to achieve cardiovascular benefit, without prejudice to weight and abdominal girth, is the Mediterranean diet. And this is increasingly accepted by the international community. It has been difficult to convince the Saxon world that our diet is the best, but they are already convinced and PREDIMED has helped a lot”, he asserted.