Background: Polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) are associated with protection from obesity-related phenotypes in adults; however, the relation between reported intake of PUFAs with body-composition outcomes in children remains unknown.
Objective: Our objective was to examine how self-reported intakes of PUFAs, including total, n-6 (ω-6), and n-3 (ω-3) PUFAs and ratios of n-6 to n-3 PUFAs and PUFAs to saturated fatty acids (SFAs), are associated with measures of adiposity and lean mass (LM) in children. We hypothesized that higher self-reported intakes of PUFAs and the ratio of PUFAs to SFAs would be positively associated with LM and negatively associated with total adiposity.
Methods: Body composition and dietary intake were measured in a racially diverse sample of 311 children (39% European American, 34% African American, and 27% Hispanic American) aged 7-12 y. Body composition and abdominal fat distribution were measured by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry and computed tomography scans, respectively. Self-reported dietary intakes (including total PUFAs, n-3 PUFAs, n-6 PUFAs, and SFAs) were assessed by using two 24-h recalls. Independent-sample t tests and multiple linear regression analyses were conducted.
Results: Total PUFA intake was positively associated with LM (P = 0.049) and negatively associated with percentage of body fat (%BF; P = 0.033) and intra-abdominal adipose tissue (IAAT; P = 0.022). A higher ratio of PUFAs to SFAs was associated with higher LM (P = 0.030) and lower %BF (P = 0.028) and IAAT (P = 0.048). Intakes of n-3 and n-6 PUFAs were positively associated with LM (P = 0.017 and P = 0.021, respectively), and the ratio of n-6 to n-3 PUFAs was negatively associated with IAAT (P = 0.014). All results were independent of biological, environmental, and genetic covariates.
Conclusions: Our results show that a higher self-reported intake of PUFAs and a higher ratio of PUFAs to SFAs are positively associated with LM and negatively associated with visceral adiposity and %BF in a healthy cohort of racially diverse children aged 7-12 y. This trial was registered at clinicaltrials.gov as NCT00726778.
Keywords: African American; Hispanic; body composition; fat mass; non-Hispanic white; n–3 PUFA; n–6 PUFA; obesity; saturated fatty acid.
© 2015 American Society for Nutrition.