British Journal of Nutrition

Full Papers

Changes in plasma fatty acid composition after intake of a standardised breakfast in prepubertal obese children

M. Gil-Camposa1, E. Larquéa2, M. C. Ramírez-Tortosaa3, J. Lindea3, I. Villadaa3, R. Cañetea1 and A. Gila3 c1

a1 Unit of Paediatric Endocrinology, Reina Sofia University Hospital Córdoba, Spain

a2 Department of Physiology, School of Biology, University of Murcia, Murcia, Spain

a3 Institute of Nutrition and Food Technology, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology II, School of Pharmacy, University of Granada, Campus de Cartuja 18071 Granada, Spain


Obese patients typically show a pattern of dyslipidaemia and changes in plasma fatty acid composition reflecting abnormalities in lipoprotein metabolism and dietary habits. Animals and obese adults have been widely studied; however, contradictory results have been published in children. The objective was to assess changes in plasma fatty acid composition in total plasma lipids and plasma lipid fractions in obese prepubertal children compared with those of normal weight and to evaluate changes in postprandial plasma fatty acids during a 3 h period after intake of a standardised breakfast. The study was a case–control study with thirty-four obese and twenty normal-weight prepubertal children (Tanner 1). Anthropometric and metabolic variables and fatty acid concentrations were measured in plasma and its fractions. Liquid chromatography was used to separate lipid fractions and GLC to quantify fatty acids. Plasma total fatty acids (TFA), SFA, MUFA and PUFA concentrations were higher in obese than in control children. Except for 18 : 0, 18 : 3n-3, 20 : 4n-6 and n-3 PUFA, all fatty acids in TAG were also elevated in the obese group. Fatty acids 16 : 1n-7, 18 : 0, 18 : 1n-9, 20 : 2n-6, TFA and MUFA significantly decreased between the 2nd and 3rd hour in normal-weight v. obese children. The concentration of 16 : 1n-7 was positively and the proportion of 20 : 4n-6 inversely associated with a significant increase in risk of obesity. Obese prepubertal children show an altered plasma fatty acid profile and concentrations, mainly related to the TAG fatty acid profile, with a lower clearance of fatty acids v. normal-weight prepubertal children.

(Received February 16 2007)

(Revised June 20 2007)

(Accepted July 30 2007)


c1 Corresponding author: Professor Angel Gil, fax +34 958 248960, email


Abbreviations: CE, cholesteryl ester; HOMA, homeostasis model assessment; MS, metabolic syndrome; PL, phospholipid; TFA, total fatty acid