Adherence to a Mediterranean dietary pattern in early life is associated with lower arterial stiffness in adulthood: the Amsterdam Growth and Health Longitudinal Study

Authors

  • R. J. J. van de Laar,

    1. Department of Internal Medicine, Maastricht University Medical Centre+, Maastricht, the Netherlands
    2. CARIM School for Cardiovascular Diseases, Maastricht University Medical Centre+, Maastricht, the Netherlands
    3. CAPHRI School for Public Health and Primary Care, Maastricht University Medical Centre+, Maastricht, the Netherlands
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  • C. D. A. Stehouwer,

    1. Department of Internal Medicine, Maastricht University Medical Centre+, Maastricht, the Netherlands
    2. CARIM School for Cardiovascular Diseases, Maastricht University Medical Centre+, Maastricht, the Netherlands
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  • B. C. T. van Bussel,

    1. Department of Internal Medicine, Maastricht University Medical Centre+, Maastricht, the Netherlands
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  • M. H. Prins,

    1. Department of Internal Medicine, Maastricht University Medical Centre+, Maastricht, the Netherlands
    2. CAPHRI School for Public Health and Primary Care, Maastricht University Medical Centre+, Maastricht, the Netherlands
    3. Department of Clinical Epidemiology and Medical Technology Assessment, Maastricht University Medical Centre+, Maastricht, the Netherlands
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  • J. W. R. Twisk,

    1. Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, VU University Medical Center, EMGO Institute for Health and Care Research, Amsterdam, the Netherlands
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  • I. Ferreira

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Internal Medicine, Maastricht University Medical Centre+, Maastricht, the Netherlands
    2. CARIM School for Cardiovascular Diseases, Maastricht University Medical Centre+, Maastricht, the Netherlands
    3. CAPHRI School for Public Health and Primary Care, Maastricht University Medical Centre+, Maastricht, the Netherlands
    4. Department of Clinical Epidemiology and Medical Technology Assessment, Maastricht University Medical Centre+, Maastricht, the Netherlands
    • Correspondence: Isabel Ferreira, Departments of Internal Medicine, Clinical Epidemiology and Medical Technology Assessment, Maastricht University Medical Centre+; P. Debyelaan 25, PO Box 5800, 6202 AZ Maastricht, the Netherlands.

      (fax: +31-43-3874419; e-mail: i.ferreira@maastrichtuniversity.nl).

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Abstract

Objectives

To investigate whether adherence to a Mediterranean dietary pattern during adolescence and early adulthood affects arterial stiffness in adulthood, and the extent to which any such association may be attributed to a beneficial impact of this diet on cardiovascular disease risk factors such as blood pressure, central fatness and dyslipidaemia.

Setting

The Amsterdam Growth and Health Longitudinal Study.

Design and subjects

We compared longitudinal levels of adherence to a Mediterranean dietary pattern (aMED score with range 0–9) during adolescence and adulthood (two to eight repeated measures obtained between the ages of 13 and 36) between individuals with different levels of arterial stiffness in adulthood. The study population included 373 (196 women) apparently healthy adults in whom properties of the carotid, brachial and femoral arteries were assessed using ultrasonography at 36 years of age.

Results

After adjustments for potential confounders, individuals with stiffer carotid arteries (defined on the basis of the most adverse tertile of, for instance, the distensibility coefficient) had lower aMED scores (−0.32, 95% CI −0.60; −0.06) and were less likely to have adhered to this dietary pattern (aMED score ≥5, odds ratio 0.69, 95% CI 0.50; −0.94) during the preceding 24 years compared with those with less stiff arteries. Differences in aMED scores were already present in adolescence and were only in part explained by the favourable associations between the Mediterranean dietary pattern and other cardiovascular disease risk factors (up to 26%), particularly mean blood pressure (up to 19%).

Conclusions

Promoting the Mediterranean diet in adolescence and early adulthood may constitute an important means of preventing arterial stiffness in adulthood.

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