Individual fatty acids in erythrocyte membranes are associated with several features of the metabolic syndrome in obese children
Obesity leads to the clustering of cardiovascular (CV) risk factors and the metabolic syndrome (MetS) also in children and is often accompanied by non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Quality of dietary fat, beyond the quantity, can influence CV risk profile and, in particular, omega-3 fatty acids (FA) have been proposed as beneficial in this setting. The aim of the study was to evaluate the associations of individual CV risk factors, characterizing the MetS, with erythrocyte membrane FA, markers of average intake, in a group of 70 overweight/obese children.
We conducted an observational study. Erythrocyte membrane FA were measured by gas chromatography. Spearman correlation coefficients (rS) were calculated to evaluate associations between FA and features of the MetS.
Mean content of Omega-3 FA was low (Omega-3 Index = 4.7 ± 0.8%). Not omega-3 FA but some omega-6 FA, especially arachidonic acid (AA), were inversely associated with several features of the MetS: AA resulted inversely correlated with waist circumference (rS = − 0.352), triglycerides (rS = − 0.379), fasting insulin (rS = − 0.337) and 24-h SBP (rS = − 0.313). Total amount of saturated FA (SFA) and specifically palmitic acid, correlated positively with waist circumference (rS = 0.354), triglycerides (rS = 0.400) and fasting insulin (rS = 0.287). Fatty Liver Index (FLI), a predictive score of steatosis based on GGT, triglycerides and anthropometric indexes, was positively correlated to palmitic acid (rS = 0.515) and inversely to AA (rS = − 0.472).
Our data suggest that omega-6 FA, and especially AA, could be protective toward CV risk factors featuring the MetS and also to indexes of hepatic steatosis in obese children, whereas SFA seems to exert opposite effects.
KeywordsOmega-6 fatty acids Saturated fatty acids Arachidonic acid Palmitic acid Metabolic syndrome Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease Children
Diastolic blood pressure
Fatty Liver Index
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease
Office diastolic blood pressure
Office systolic blood pressure
Randomized controlled trial
Systolic blood pressure
Saturated fatty acid
Part of this work was performed in the LURM (Laboratorio Universitario di Ricerca Medica) Research Center, University of Verona.
The study is supported by a Grant of the Italian Ministry of Health (GR-2011-02349630) to CF in agreement with the ‘Regione Veneto’ and the ‘Azienda Ospedaliera Universitaria Integrata di Verona’.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The author declares that they have no competing interest.
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