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Sexual dysfunction and the Mediterranean diet

  • Dario Giugliano (a1) (a2), Francesco Giugliano (a3) and Katherine Esposito (a1) (a2)

To discuss present knowledge about the relation between sexual dysfunction, metabolic factors and the Mediterranean-style diet.


Review of the literature and personal perspectives.

Setting and results

Sexual problems appear to be widespread in society, influenced by both health-related and psychosocial factors, and are associated with impaired quality of life. Epidemiological studies suggest that modifiable health behaviours, including physical activity and leanness, are associated with a reduced risk for erectile dysfunction (ED) among men. Data from other surveys also indicate a higher prevalence of impotence in obese men. Obesity and the metabolic syndrome may be a risk factor for ED. The high prevalence of ED in patients with cardiovascular risk factors suggests that abnormalities of the vasodilator system of penile arteries play an important role in the pathophysiology of ED. We have shown that one-third of obese men with ED can regain their sexual activity after 2 years of adopting health behaviours, including a Mediterranean-style diet associated with regular exercise.


Western societies actually spend a huge part of their health care costs on chronic disease treatment and interventions for risk factors. The adoption of healthy lifestyles can reduce the prevalence of obesity and the metabolic syndrome, and hopefully the burden of sexual dysfunction.

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Public Health Nutrition
  • ISSN: 1368-9800
  • EISSN: 1475-2727
  • URL: /core/journals/public-health-nutrition
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