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J Nutr. 2013 May;143(5):682-9. doi: 10.3945/jn.112.172866. Epub 2013 Mar 13.

Childhood serum fatty acid quality is associated with adult carotid artery intima media thickness in women but not in men.

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Research Centre of Applied and Preventive Cardiovascular Medicine, University of Turku, Turku, Finland.


Childhood nutrition may play a role in the development of cardiovascular disease risk in adulthood. We examined the links between childhood dietary fatty acid quality and adult subclinical atherosclerosis in a cohort of 374 males and 449 females, aged 3-18 y at baseline in 1980, followed for 27 y. Serum cholesterol ester fatty acid (CEFA) percentages were analyzed as markers of dietary fatty acid intake. Adulthood carotid artery intima media thickness (cIMT, μm), adjusted for childhood and adulthood lipid and nonlipid risk markers, was used as the outcome. In women, after adjustment for age and childhood nonlipid risk markers, the childhood saturated CEFA (B = 11.3; P = 0.011), monounsaturated CEFA (B = 2.5; P = 0.025), and n3 (ω3) polyunsaturated CEFA (B = 16.2; P = 0.035) percentages were directly associated with adult cIMT. In contrast, the n6 (ω6) polyunsaturated CEFA percentage was negatively associated with cIMT (B = -2.3; P = 0.008). Similar relationships were observed between childhood dietary intake data and adult cIMT. In men, these associations were generally weak and nonsignificant (P > 0.05) after controlling for confounders. These longitudinal data suggest that fat quality as reflected in the serum cholesterol ester fraction in childhood is associated with adult cIMT in women.

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