British Journal of Nutrition

Research Article

Dietary fat intake in healthy adolescents: inverse relationships between the estimated intake of saturated fatty acids and serum cholesterol

Gösta Samuelsona1, Lars-Erik Brattebya1, Rawya Mohsena1 and Bengt Vessby c1

a1 Units of Clinical Physiology and Clinical Nutrition Research, University of Uppsala, Uppsala, Sweden


The objective of the present study was to describe the intake of dietary fatty acids among healthy 15-year-old boys and girls and to relate the intake of specific fatty acids and the fatty acid composition of the serum cholesterol esters to serum lipid, apolipoprotein (Apo) and insulin concentrations respectively. Fifty-two girls and forty-two boys were randomly selected from the official population register. Unexpectedly, significant inverse associations were found between the dietary content of saturated fatty acids with a chain length of four to fifteen C atoms, mainly derived from milk fat, as well as the corresponding fatty acids in the serum cholesterol esters, on the one hand and the serum concentrations of cholesterol and ApoB on the other. The estimated dietary intake of 4:0–10:0, 12:0 and 14:0 respectively, were all significantly inversely related to the serum cholesterol (r -0.32, r -0.31, r -0.30, all P<0.05) and ApoB (r -0.42, r -0.42, and r -0.40, all P<0.05) concentrations in girls and 12:0 to the ApoB concentration (r -0.55, P<0.01) in boys. The proportions of 12:0 and 15:0 in the serum cholesterol esters were negatively correlated with the serum cholesterol concentrations in both girls (r -0.34, r -0.32, P<0.05) and boys (r -0.53, P<0.01; r -0.32, P<0.05) and with the ApoB concentrations among boys (r -0.61, P<0.01; r -0.43, P<0.05). It is conceivable that milk fat contains or is associated with some component in the diet, or some other characteristics of the food intake, which counterbalances the expected positive relationships between saturated fat intake and lipid levels.

(Received April 17 2000)

(Revised September 05 2000)

(Accepted October 20 2000)


c1 * Corresponding author: Dr Bengt Vessby, fax +46 18 177976, email