Objectives: Few studies address gender and ethnic variations in essential fatty acid (EFA) intake and risk factors for coronary heart disease (CHD). The purpose of this study was to estimate EFA intake among college students of 3 ethnic groups and compare the relationship between EFA intake and CHD risk factors.
Methods: Using a cross-sectional design, 300 subjects from 3 ethnic groups--one-third (n = 100) non-Hispanic white, one-third Hispanic, and one-third non-Hispanic black-completed the Cardiovascular Risk Assessment Instruments and a Food Frequency Questionnaire to determine fatty acid intake. Measured CHD risk factors were quantified as CHD Risk Point Standards (CHDRPS).
Results: Results showed that Hispanic females had a significantly higher mean percent intake of arachidonic acid and ratio of linoleic acid to alpha-linolenic acid than non-Hispanic white females, and Hispanic males had significantly higher mean percent intake of EPA and [EPA plus docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)] than non-Hispanic white males. An inverse correlation was found between CHDRPS and DHA among non-Hispanic blacks. A significant positive correlation was found between CHDRPS and linoleic acid among non-Hispanic white females, as well as serum homocysteine (tHcy) concentrations and the ratio of linoleic acid to alpha-linolenic acid intake among non-Hispanic black females.
Conclusion: Gender and ethnic differences play a role in adherence to dietary guidelines, demonstrating relevance for future research in this area.