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Nutrition. 2011 Nov-Dec;27(11-12):1136-40. doi: 10.1016/j.nut.2011.01.004. Epub 2011 Jun 12.

Australian children are not consuming enough long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids for optimal health.

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  • 1School of Health Sciences and Metabolic Research Centre, University of Wollongong, Wollongong, New South Wales, Australia.



To determine children's polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) intakes, compare these with adequate intake and adjusted suggested dietary targets, and determine if intakes between children of different body weight and physical activity levels differed.


The necessary data files were obtained from the Australian Social Science Data Archive and were merged for 4486 children 2 to 16 y old, with physical activity data collected only for children 5 to 16 y old.


The median (interquartile range) PUFA intakes at 2 to 3, 4 to 8, 9 to 13, and 14 to 16 y were 4.7 g (3.1-6.2), 6.0 g (4.4-8.1), 7.1 g (5.3-9.7), and 8.5 g (6.0-11.3), respectively, for linoleic acid; 0.75 g (0.57-1.0), 0.91 g (0.67-1.2), 1.02 g (0.73-1.42), and 1.15 g (0.81-1.62), respectively, for α-linolenic acid; and 56 mg (29-104), 68 mg (37-128), 88 mg (46-159), and 98 mg (49-190), respectively, for long-chain (LC) ω-3 PUFAs. Most children met the adequate intakes for linoleic acid and α-linolenic acid, but only 50% to 60% of children met the adequate intake for LC ω-3 PUFAs. Furthermore, only 6% of children met the adjusted suggested dietary target for LC ω-3 PUFA per day. Comparison of LC ω-3 PUFA tertile intakes showed no differences in intakes in different weight categories and physical activity levels.


Most Australian children are not consuming enough LC ω-3 PUFAs for optimal health.

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