Development of a Mediterranean diet score adapted to Japan and its relation to obesity risk

  • Masao Kanauchi Kio University
  • Kimiko Kanauchi Narahigashi Hospital
Keywords: Mediterranean diet, Japanese, diet quality, obesity


Background: The Mediterranean diet (MD) is well known as a healthy diet that protects against several chronic diseases. However, there is no appropriate and easy index to assess adherence to the MD pattern in Japan.

Objective: The aim of this study was to develop a novel instrument to measure MD adherence adapted to a Japanese diet and to examine its association with overweight/obesity risk.

Methods: A cross-sectional nutritional survey provided the data for construction of a novel MD score. In total, 1,048 subjects who were employees and university students, aged 18–68 years (645 men and 403 women), completed a 58-item brief-type self-administered dietary history questionnaire. We constructed a Japanese-adapted MD score (jMD score) focusing on 13 components. Adherence to the jMD was categorized as low (score 0–4), moderate (5–7), or high (8–13).

Results: Men had higher jMD scores than women, and adherence to the jMD score increased with age. Only 11.6% of subjects showed high adherence to the jMD, whereas 29.6% showed low adherence. A higher jMD adherence was associated with a higher intake of favorable nutrients with the exception of salt. The jMD adherence was significantly associated with a reduced likelihood of having overweight/obesity for the highest category compared with lowest category (odds ratio [OR] 0.50, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.30–0.85, p-trend=0.017) after adjusting for age, sex, smoking, physical activity, alcohol intake, and hypertension. A two-point increment in jMD score was related to a reduced likelihood of having overweight/obesity with an odds ratio of 0.76 (95% CI 0.65–0.90, p=0.002).

Conclusions: Our novel jMD score confirmed reasonable associations with nutrient intakes, and higher MD adherence was associated with a lower prevalence of overweight/obesity.

Keywords: Mediterranean diet; Japanese; diet quality; obesity

(Published: 1 November 2016)

Citation: Food & Nutrition Research 2016, 60: 32172 -


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Author Biographies

Masao Kanauchi, Kio University
Department of Health and Nutrition, Faculty of Health Science
Kimiko Kanauchi, Narahigashi Hospital
Department of Internal Medicine
How to Cite
Kanauchi M., & Kanauchi K. (2016). Development of a Mediterranean diet score adapted to Japan and its relation to obesity risk. Food & Nutrition Research, 60.
Original Articles