Mediterranean Diet Associated with Reduced Stress Levels in Korean Baby Boomers

by Ella


As Korea’s baby boomer population, constituting approximately 15% of those born between 1955 and 1963, transitions into old age, concerns arise regarding declining healthy life expectancy despite overall longevity. Middle-aged health behaviors significantly impact later quality of life, necessitating the promotion of healthier lifestyles among baby boomers. Mental health, particularly stress levels, is crucial in older adults, as it correlates with cognitive decline and cardiovascular disease risk. Research indicates that psychosocial stress independently elevates stroke risk in adults.

The bidirectional relationship between diet and mental health underscores the importance of dietary patterns. The Mediterranean diet, abundant in legumes, nuts, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, olive oil, and fish, and moderate in alcohol, is associated with various health benefits. Adopting this diet around retirement age may foster healthy aging, potentially preventing depression and enhancing cognitive abilities. Studies suggest it may mitigate psychosocial stress and its impact on executive function, although further investigation is needed. Thus, this study explores the link between Mediterranean diet adherence among Korean baby boomers and psychosocial stress levels to inform mental health management strategies in later life.


About the Study:

This cross-sectional study utilized data from the Korean Genome and Epidemiology Study (KoGES), involving adults aged 42 to 50 from urban and rural South Korea. A total of 1,656 participants (889 men) were included after excluding individuals with extreme daily energy intake and non-respondents.


Dietary intake was assessed using a Semi-Quantitative Food Frequency Questionnaire (SQFFQ) and Mediterranean diet score (MTDS). MTDS comprised 11 components, with higher scores indicating better adherence. Participants’ socioeconomic status, demographics, and lifestyle factors were assessed, and stress levels were measured using the Perceived Stress Scale (PWI-SF) for Koreans.


Results and Discussion:

Comparison of MTDS adherence groups revealed no significant differences in most characteristics. However, women with the highest adherence tended to have higher education, while men exhibited lower psychosocial stress scores.


Higher adherence to the Mediterranean diet correlated with increased consumption of vegetables, whole grains, fruits, legumes, and fish, and decreased red meat and dairy consumption. Energy and nutrient intakes rose with higher MTDS.

Increased adherence to the Mediterranean diet was associated with reduced risk of high psychosocial stress, with significant decreases observed in both men and women.


Encouraging adherence to the Mediterranean diet among baby boomers may facilitate healthy aging and improve health outcomes. Future studies should focus on developing interventions to promote diet adoption and adherence in this demographic.



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