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J Am Coll Nutr. 2005 Aug;24(4):286-93.

Saturated and cis- and trans-unsaturated fatty acids intake in rural and urban Costa Rican adolescents.

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  • 1Costa Rican Institute for Research and Education on Nutrition and Health (INCIENSA), Ministry of Health, Apartado 4-2250, Tres Ríos, Costa Rica.



The purpose of this study is to determine whether intake of saturated fatty acids and cis- and trans-unsaturated fatty acids is associated with an urban compared to a rural lifestyle, and whether these associations are responsible for differences in plasma lipid concentrations.


Two hundred seventy-five adolescents, aged 12 to 19 years, living in rural and urban areas of San José, Costa Rica, were included in the study. All participants completed three-day food records, provided a fasting blood sample, and carried out a modified Harvard Step Test.


Compared to rural, urban adolescents reported higher intakes of energy-adjusted individual and total saturated fatty acids, total n-3, total n-6 (p < 0.05). Compared to rural, urban adolescents had higher intake of 18:1 (3.65 vs. 3.25, p = 0.0001) and 18:2 (0.62 vs. 0.80, p = 0.001) trans fatty acids, as well as lower intake of carbohydrate (p < 0.05). Palm shortening was the main source of saturated fat (32%), and partially hydrogenated soybean oil used for cooking was the main source of n-3 fatty acids (33%), n-6 fatty acids (33%) and trans fatty acids (34%). Compared to rural, urban adolescents had lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure and higher plasma HDL cholesterol concentration (44 vs. 40 mg/dL, p < 0.0001), but were more likely to be sedentary (68% vs. 57%, p < 0.0001). Among environmental factors, higher carbohydrate intake was a significant determinant of a lower HDL cholesterol (beta coeff = -1.45, p = 0.04), while lauric and myristic fatty acids correlated with increased LDL cholesterol (beta coeff = 3.6, 1.7, p < 0.05).


A diet containing less carbohydrate and less saturated fatty acids contributes to a more beneficial lipid profile in Costa Rican adolescents, but a trend towards high trans fatty acids intake, particularly in the urban area, is worrisome given the well-known adverse effects of trans fatty acids.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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