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Dietary interventions more effective in younger people, new research finds

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Short-term dietary interventions that are prescribed to reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular disease (CVD) are more effective in younger adults, a study by Sheffield Hallam University has found.

Looking at the affects of a short-term Mediterranean diet, researchers in the University's Centre for Sport and Exercise Science observed better improvements in the physiological functions in 18 to 35-year-olds than older adults aged between 55 and 75.

A group of 24 adults took part in the pilot study and were asked to follow a Mediterranean diet for four weeks. Weight,​ ​height,​ ​waist​ ​and​ ​hip circumference,​ ​blood​ ​pressure and ​heart​ ​rate measurements were taken before and after the trial together with other physiological ​assessments.

The study, which has been published in Science Direct, concluded that a short-term Mediterranean diet ​offered physiological benefits in a younger population however, no significant improvements were observed in a senior, healthy population and therefore different durations of dietary interventions should be applied to different age groups.

Leading the study, Dr Markos Klonizakis, said: "The benefits of a Mediterranean diet are undeniable but there are certain elements that need to be explored further. For example, it is unknown what the optimal duration of a Mediterranean diet is and at which point we start to see cardiovascular benefits.

"CVD​ ​affects​ ​more​ ​than​ ​7​ ​million​ ​people​ ​in the​ ​UK,​ ​and​ ​the​ ​cost​ ​of​ ​managing​ ​cardiovascular​ ​diseases​​ ​is​ ​more​ ​than​ ​£28​ ​billion per​ ​year. If we can determine optimal duration for different age groups, we could ​help​ ​to​ ​provide​ ​a​ ​clearer​ ​structure​ ​for​ ​health​ ​practitioners to​ ​develop​ more effective ​interventions​ ​for​ ​specific​ ​populations."

For press information: Sarah Duce in the Sheffield Hallam University press office on 0114 225 4025 or email