To analyze the macronutrient, micronutrient, food intake pattern, anthropometry, and lipid profile of urban Asian Indian adolescents and young adults and compare it with the nutrient profile of rural Asian Indian and American adolescents.

This was a cross-sectional, epidemiologic descriptive study. Body mass index (BMI), percentage body fat, waist and hip circumferences, skinfold thickness, serum lipids, and dietary intake were assessed in 1236 subjects (607 males, 629 females) aged 13-25 years from schools and colleges of a metropolitan city of India.

The mean age and BMI of study subjects were 17.6 +/- 2.4 years (range 13-25 years) and 19.8 +/- 3.3 kg/m(2) (range 11.9-35.9 kg/m(2)), respectively. The mean daily percentages of total energy contributed by carbohydrates, total fats, proteins, saturated fatty acids (SFAs), monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs), polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), omega-3 PUFAs, omega-6 PUFAs, and trans-fatty acids for all subjects were 53%, 34%, 11%, 11%, 10%, 9%, 1%, 8%, and 0.3%, respectively. The absolute daily intake of total fat was 84 +/- 29 g/d in males and 72 +/- 21 g/d in females, which was approximately 4 times the recommended dietary allowance for Asian Indians (20-22 g/d). Among food groups, a high intake of milk, milk products, roots, and tubers was observed. In these young individuals, the prevalence of hypercholesterolemia (males > or =169 mg/dl; females > or =181 mg/dl) and overweight (BMI > or =23.1 kg/m(2)) was 14.4% and approximately 16%, respectively. On comparison with rural Asian Indian adolescents, an inappropriately high intake of total fat was observed in our subjects. On the other hand, the percentage of energy intake of SFAs in Asian Indian and American adolescents was at par.

High total fat and SFA intake and a low intake of MUFAs and omega-3 PUFAs showed imbalanced nutrition, which could be responsible for the increasing prevalence of obesity and insulin resistance in urban Asian Indian adolescents and young adults. Nutritional strategies for reducing SFA intake and balancing the omega-3/omega-6 PUFAs ratio should be urgently applied in Asian Indian adolescents and are also presented in this paper.