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Eur J Clin Nutr. 2015 Feb;69(2):167-72. doi: 10.1038/ejcn.2014.210. Epub 2014 Oct 1.

Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) is inversely related to development of adiposity in school-age children.

Author information

1
Department of Population Medicine, Harvard Medical School and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute, Boston, MA, USA.
2
Department of Epidemiology, University of Michigan School of Public Health, Ann Arbor, MI, USA.
3
Fundación para Investigación en Nutrición y Salud, FINUSAD, Bogotá, Colombia.

Abstract

BACKGROUND/OBJECTIVES:

Studies in adults indicate that dietary polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) composition may play a role in development of adiposity. Because adipocyte quantity is established between late childhood and early adolescence, understanding the impact of PUFAs on weight gain during the school-age years is crucial to developing effective interventions.

SUBJECTS/METHODS:

We quantified N-3 and N-6 PUFAs in serum samples of 668 Colombian schoolchildren aged 5-12 years at the time of recruitment into a cohort study, using gas-liquid chromatography. Serum concentrations of N-3 (alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid, docosahexaenoic acid) and N-6 PUFAs (linoleic acid, gamma-linolenic acid, dihomo-gamma-linolenic acid, arachidonic acid) were determined as percentage total fatty acids. Children's anthropometry was measured annually for a median of 30 months. We used mixed-effects models with restricted cubic splines to construct population body mass index-for-age z-score (BAZ) growth curves for age- and sex-specific quartiles of each PUFA.

RESULTS:

N-3 ALA was inversely related to BAZ gain after adjustment for sex, baseline age and weight status, as well as household socioeconomic level. Estimated BAZ change between 6 and 14 years among children in the highest quartile of ALA compared with those in the lowest quartile was 0.45 (95% confidence interval: 0.07, 0.83) lower (P-trend=0.006).

CONCLUSIONS:

N-3 ALA may be protective against weight gain in school-age children. Whether improvement in PUFA status reduces adiposity in pediatric populations deserves evaluation in randomized trials.

PMID:
25271016
PMCID:
PMC4648352
DOI:
10.1038/ejcn.2014.210
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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