Dietary lipids in early development: relevance to obesity, immune and inflammatory disorders

Curr Opin Endocrinol Diabetes Obes. 2007 Oct;14(5):359-64. doi: 10.1097/MED.0b013e3282be90b9.


Purpose of review: Regardless of social, cultural and behavioural environments, obesity is usually caused by an energy intake above requirements, which is accommodated by the accumulation of triacylglycerols. The composition of dietary fat impacts tissue fatty acids, which are important modulators of multiple cell functions, including differentiation, lipogenesis, lipolysis and the generation of inflammatory mediators. This review focuses on the possible contribution of fatty acids to the link between obesity and inflammation in young children.

Recent findings: Adipose tissue is a complex organ that functions to regulate fatty acid balance, clearing and releasing fatty acids, and synthesizing protein and signaling molecules that act as local and distant inflammatory mediators. Obesity, even in young children, is associated with increased circulating inflammatory mediators. As a result of changes in dietary fat compositions, infants are exposed to high n-6, saturated and trans fatty acids and low n-3 fatty acids. Saturated and trans fatty acids increase and n-3 fatty acids decrease many metabolic and inflammatory changes that accompany diet-induced triacylglycerol storage. High linoleic acid is associated with increased oxidative stress.

Summary: There is a biological reason to consider that dietary fatty acids may contribute to oxidative stress and heightened inflammatory responses in young children.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / immunology
  • Adipose Tissue / physiopathology
  • Child
  • Child Development
  • Dietary Fats / adverse effects*
  • Dietary Fats / immunology
  • Dietary Fats / metabolism
  • Dietary Fats / standards
  • Energy Intake / immunology
  • Fatty Acids / adverse effects
  • Fatty Acids / immunology
  • Fatty Acids / pharmacology
  • Fatty Acids, Monounsaturated / pharmacology
  • Homeostasis
  • Humans
  • Immune System Diseases / etiology*
  • Immune System Diseases / metabolism
  • Infant
  • Inflammation / etiology
  • Inflammation / immunology
  • Inflammation / physiopathology
  • Inflammation Mediators / adverse effects
  • Inflammation Mediators / pharmacokinetics
  • Obesity / etiology*
  • Obesity / immunology
  • Obesity / metabolism
  • Oxidative Stress / immunology
  • Trans Fatty Acids / adverse effects
  • Trans Fatty Acids / immunology
  • Trans Fatty Acids / pharmacology
  • Triglycerides / adverse effects
  • Triglycerides / biosynthesis
  • Triglycerides / immunology


  • Dietary Fats
  • Fatty Acids
  • Fatty Acids, Monounsaturated
  • Inflammation Mediators
  • Trans Fatty Acids
  • Triglycerides