Food and Behaviour Research

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Awareness of Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Possible Health Effects among Young Adults

Roke K, Rattner J, Brauer P, Mutch DM (2018) Can J Diet Pract Res.  2018 Mar 16: 1-7. doi: 10.3148/cjdpr-2018-005.  

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To assess awareness of omega-3 fatty acids (FAs) and their possible health effects among young adults.


An online survey was deployed to young adults. Questionnaire development involved identification of topic areas by content experts and adaptation of questions from previous consumer surveys. Focus groups and cognitive interviews ensured face validity, feasibility, and clarity of survey questions. Degrees of awareness and self-reported consumption were assessed by descriptive statistics and associations by Cochran's Q tests, Pearson's χ2 tests, Z-tests, and logistic regression.


Of the 834 survey completers (aged 18-25 years), more respondents recognized the abbreviations EPA (∼51%) and DHA (∼66%) relative to ALA (∼40%; P ≤ 0.01). Most respondents (∼83%) recognized that EPA and DHA have been linked to heart and brain health. Respondents who used academic/reputable sources, healthcare professionals, and/or social media to obtain nutritional information were more likely to report awareness of these health effects (P ≤ 0.01). Finally, 48% of respondents reported purchasing or consuming omega-3 foods, while 21% reported taking omega-3 supplements.


This baseline survey suggests a high level of awareness of some aspects of omega-3 fats and health in a sample of young adults, and social media has become a prominent source of nutrition and health information.