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Eur J Clin Nutr. 2016 Jul;70(7):819-23. doi: 10.1038/ejcn.2015.219. Epub 2016 Jan 13.

Whole-blood fatty acids and inflammation in European children: the IDEFICS Study.

Author information

GENUD (Growth, Exercise, NUtrition and Development) Research Group, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Zaragoza, Zaragoza, Spain.
Centro de Investigación Biomédica en Red de Salud Mental (CIBERSAM), Ministry of Science and Innovation, Madrid, Spain.
Department of Preventive Medicine and Public Health, University of Zaragoza, Zaragoza, Spain.
Unit of Epidemiology and Population Genetics, Institute of Food Sciences, National Research Council, Avellino, Italy.
Department of Epidemiological Methods and Etiologic Research, Leibniz Institute for Prevention Research and Epidemiology-BIPS, Bremen, Germany.
Institute of Statistics, Faculty of Mathematics and Computer Science, University Bremen, Bremen, Germany.
Department of Public Health, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium.
Department of Community Medicine and Public Health, Sahlgrenska Academy at Göteborg University, Gothenburg, Sweden.
Laboratory of Molecular and Nutritional Epidemiology, Department of Epidemiology and Prevention, IRCCS Mediterranean Neurological Institute NEUROMED, Pozzilli, Italy.
Department of Paediatrics, Medical Faculty, University of Pécs, Pécs, Hungary.
Department of Pharmacological and Biomolecular Sciences, University of Milan, Milan, Italy.
Research and Education Institute of Child Health, REF, Strovolos, Cyprus.
National Institute for Health Development, Tervise Arengu Instituut, Tallinn, Estonia.



Fatty acids are hypothesized to influence cardiovascular disease risk because of their effect on inflammation. The aim of this study is to assess the relationship between whole-blood fatty acids (WBFAs) and high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP) in European children.


A total of 1401 subjects (697 boys and 704 girls) aged between 2 and 9 years from the IDEFICS (Identification and prevention of Dietary- and lifestyle-induced health EFfects in Children and infantS) study were measured in this cross-sectional analysis. The sample was divided into three categories of hs-CRP. Associations between WBFA and hs-CRP were assessed by logistic regression models adjusting for body mass index (BMI), country, age, breastfeeding, mother's education and hours of physical activity.


Linoleic acid (LA) (P=0.013, 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.822-0.977) and sum of n-6 WBFA (P=0.029, 95% CI: 0.866-0.992) concentrations were associated with lower concentrations of hs-CRP in boys. In girls, a high ratio of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)/arachidonic acid (AA) was associated (P=0.018, 95% CI: 0.892-0.989) with lower hs-CRP concentrations. In contrast, sum of blood n-6 highly unsaturated fatty acids (P=0.012, 95% CI: 1.031-1.284), AA (P=0.007, 95% CI: 1.053-1.395) and AA/LA ratio (P=0.005, 95% CI: 1.102-1.703) were associated (P<0.05) with higher concentrations of hs-CRP in girls.


The n-6 WBFAs (sum of n-6 FA and LA) were associated with lower hs-CRP in boys and with higher hs-CRP in girls (AA, sum of n-6 highly unsaturated and AA/LA ratio). More studies are needed to identify the optimal levels of WBFAs to avoid low-grade inflammation in children considering the differences by sex and BMI.

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