Obesity Modifies..


Obesity Modifies the Association between Plasma Phospholipid Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids and Markers of Inflammation

Omega-3 and omega -6 fatty acids have gotten attention recently for their possible health benefits. When eaten, these acids break down into smaller parts that promote heart health. They do so by reducing inflammation in the blood vessels. nflammation is a process where blood vessels react to harmful elements in the body and try to heal themselves. Constant inflammation can increase the risk of developing atherosclerosis. Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids can help this healing process. Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are most commonly found in:

  • Fish
  • Fish oil
  • Canola oil
  • Flaxseeds
  • Walnuts
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Kale
  • Spinach
(image courtesy of PsychCentral)

A group of MESA investigators conducted a study to see if obesity changes the way omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids affects inflammation in adults. They randomly chose 2848 adults from the MESA cohort. There were about an equal number of African-American, Latino White and Chinese-Americans people in the study. They then measured amounts of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in the blood. They also measured amounts of markers in the blood that show inflammation.

The results showed that obese people have different levels of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in their blood compared to healthy weight individuals. Researchers found that omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids have a relationship with markers for inflammation. For instance, a higher level of some omega-3 fatty acids was related to having a lower level of some inflammation markers. On the other hand, higher levels of omega-6 fatty acids were related to higher levels of inflammation markers. ome of these relationships are stronger in obese individuals.

Since people who are obese have a higher risk for heart disease, they may need to pay attention to the amounts of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids they eat. Higher levels of omega-3 and lower levels of one omega-6 fatty acid called linoleic acid are especially important to lower inflammation in obese people. Vegetable oil is a common source of linoleic acid. More studies are needed to determine if more omega-3 fatty acids and other types of fats affect inflammation. This inflammation can lead to risk for disease, particularly in obese individuals.

Steffen BT, Steffen LM, Tracy R, Siscovick D, Hanson NQ, Nettleton J, Tsai MY. Obesity modifies the association between plasma phospholipid polyunsaturated fatty acids and markers of inflammation: the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis. Int J Obes (Lond). 2012 Jun;36(6):797-804