Plasma nutrient biomarkers are associated with waist-to-height ratio in youth with type 1 diabetes

J Nutr. 2015 Mar;145(3):579-86. doi: 10.3945/jn.114.203133. Epub 2015 Jan 21.


Background: Plasma fatty acids (FAs) and micronutrients have been associated with central obesity in adults; however, previous studies of these associations in adults have yielded mixed results. In addition, no comparable research has been conducted among youth with type 1 diabetes (T1D).

Objective: We investigated the cross-sectional and longitudinal associations between plasma nutrient biomarkers and waist-to-height ratio (WHtR) in youth with T1D.

Methods: These analyses included 1324 youth aged 3-20 y at T1D diagnosis with a baseline visit in the SEARCH (Search for Diabetes in Youth) Study and a subset of 1178 of these youth with a follow-up visit an average of 23 mo (range: 16-40 mo) after their baseline visit. Plasma phospholipid FAs and vitamins were measured, and estimated desaturase activities were calculated at baseline. Anthropometric measurements and diabetes-related assessments were collected at each visit. Multiple linear regression was used to examine the association between plasma nutrient biomarkers and WHtR.

Results: In cross-sectional analysis, plasma palmitic acid (P = 0.004), dihomo-γ-linolenic acid (DGLA; P = 0.017) and Δ6 desaturase (D6D; P = 0.006) were positively correlated with WHtR after adjustment of confounders. Oleic acid (OA; P = 0.002), linoleic acid (LA; P = 0.015), Δ9 desaturase 18 (D9D-18; P = 0.027), and vitamin D (P < 0.0001) were negatively correlated with WHtR after adjustment. Weight status was an effect modifier (P < 0.05). In normal-weight youth, vitamin D (P = 0.003) was negatively associated with WHtR. In obese youth, stearic acid (P = 0.037), DGLA (P < 0.0001), and D6D (P < 0.0001) were positively associated and OA (P = 0.0008), D9D-18 (P = 0.0006), and vitamin D (P < 0.0001) were negatively associated with WHtR. In longitudinal analysis, baseline linoleic acid (P = 0.018), n-6:n-3 (ω-3:ω-6) FA ratio (P = 0.029), vitamin D (P = 0.003), and vitamin E (P < 0.0001) were negatively correlated with WHtR at follow-up only in obese participants.

Conclusions: In T1D youth, plasma FAs and vitamins are associated with WHtR and are modified by weight status. These associations are particularly marked in obese youth.

Keywords: central obesity; plasma biomarker; plasma fatty acids; type 1 diabetes; waist-to-height ratio.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Biomarkers / blood*
  • Body Height*
  • Body Mass Index
  • Body Weight
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / blood*
  • Fatty Acid Desaturases / blood
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / blood
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Limit of Detection
  • Linoleic Acid / blood
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Micronutrients / blood*
  • Obesity / blood
  • Palmitic Acid / blood
  • Phospholipids / blood
  • Prospective Studies
  • Vitamin D / blood
  • Vitamin E / blood
  • Waist Circumference*
  • Young Adult


  • Biomarkers
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3
  • Micronutrients
  • Phospholipids
  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin E
  • Palmitic Acid
  • Linoleic Acid
  • Fatty Acid Desaturases