Food and Behaviour Research

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The relationship between dietary intakes and plasma concentrations of PUFA in school-age children from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) cohort

Buckland G, Johnson S, Johnson L, Taylor C, Jones L, Emmett P (2021) The British Journal of Nutrition Jun 17;1-11 doi: 10.1017/S0007114521002191 

Web URL: PubMed


An adequate intake of PUFA plays a vital role in human health. Therefore, it is important to assess PUFA intakes in different populations and validate them with biomarkers, but only a few small studies are in paediatric populations.

We calculated the dietary intake of PUFA and their main food sources in children and assessed associations between PUFA intakes and plasma proportions. Dietary intakes of 7-year-old children (n 8242) enrolled in the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children were calculated from the parental-completed FFQ. Plasma PUFA were measured in 5571 children 8 months later, and 4380 children had complete dietary and plasma data. The association between dietary and plasma PUFA proportions was estimated using Spearman's correlation coefficients, quintile cross-classification and Cohen's κ coefficients.

Mean total PUFA intake was 13·2 g/d (sd 4·2), contributing 6·5 % of total energy intake; n-6 PUFA contributed 5·2 % and n-3 PUFA 0·7 %. The n-6:n-3 ratio was 7·9:1. Mean intakes of EPA and DHA were 35·7 mg/d and 49·7 mg/d, respectively.

Most n-3 and n-6 PUFA intakes were weakly correlated with their respective plasma lipids (0·07 ≤ r ≤ 0·16, P < 0·001). The correlation between dietary and plasma DHA was stronger though (r = 0·34, P < 0·001), supported by a modest level of agreement between quintiles (k = 0·32). The results indicate that the FFQ was able to reasonably rank the long-chain (LC) PUFA, DHA, in this paediatric population.

Public health initiatives need to address the suboptimal ratio of n-6:n-3 PUFA and very low n-3 LC-PUFA intakes in school-age children in the UK.