N-3 fatty acids are associated with favorable, and obesity with unfavorable, concentrations of chronic disease risk biomarkers.

We examined whether high eicosapentaenoic (EPA) and docosahexaenoic (DHA) acid intakes, measured as percentages of total red blood cell (RBC) fatty acids, modify associations of obesity with chronic disease risk biomarkers.

In a cross-sectional study of 330 Yup'ik Eskimos, generalized additive models (GAM) and linear and quadratic regression models were used to examine associations of BMI with biomarkers across RBC EPA and DHA categories.

Median (5th-95th percentile) RBC EPA and DHA were 2.6% (0.5-5.9%) and 7.3% (3.3-8.9%), respectively. In regression models, associations of BMI with triglycerides, glucose, insulin, C-reactive protein (CRP) and leptin differed significantly by RBC EPA and DHA. The GAM confirmed regression results for triglycerides and CRP: at low RBC EPA and RBC DHA, the predicted increases in triglycerides and CRP concentrations associated with a BMI increase from 25 to 35 were 99.5±45.3 mg/dl (106%) and 137.8±71.0 mg/dl (156%), respectively, for triglycerides and 1.2±0.7 mg/l (61%) and 0.8±1.0 mg/l (35%), respectively, for CRP. At high RBC EPA and RBC DHA, these predicted increases were 13.9±8.1 mg/dl (23%) and 12.0±12.3 mg/dl (18%), respectively, for triglycerides and 0.5±0.5 mg/l (50%) and -0.5±0.6 mg/l (-34%), respectively, for CRP.

In this population, high RBC EPA and DHA were associated with attenuated dyslipidemia and low-grade systemic inflammation among overweight and obese persons. This may help inform recommendations for n-3 fatty acid intakes in the reduction of obesity-related disease risk.

PMID: 21427737

See following website for full manuscript.