BACKGROUND: Plasma fatty acids (FAs) and micronutrients have been associated with central obesity in adults; however, previous studies of these associations in adults have yielded mixed results. In addition, no comparable research has been conducted among youth with type 1 diabetes (T1D).
OBJECTIVE: We investigated the cross-sectional and longitudinal associations between plasma nutrient biomarkers and waist-to-height ratio (WHtR) in youth with T1D.
METHODS: These analyses included 1324 youth aged 3-20 y at T1D diagnosis with a baseline visit in the SEARCH (Search for Diabetes in Youth) Study and a subset of 1178 of these youth with a follow-up visit an average of 23 mo (range: 16-40 mo) after their baseline visit. Plasma phospholipid FAs and vitamins were measured, and estimated desaturase activities were calculated at baseline. Anthropometric measurements and diabetes-related assessments were collected at each visit. Multiple linear regression was used to examine the association between plasma nutrient biomarkers and WHtR.
RESULTS: In cross-sectional analysis, plasma palmitic acid (P = 0.004), dihomo-γ-linolenic acid (DGLA; P = 0.017) and Δ6 desaturase (D6D; P = 0.006) were positively correlated with WHtR after adjustment of confounders. Oleic acid (OA; P = 0.002), linoleic acid (LA; P = 0.015), Δ9 desaturase 18 (D9D-18; P = 0.027), and vitamin D (P < 0.0001) were negatively correlated with WHtR after adjustment. Weight status was an effect modifier (P < 0.05). In normal-weight youth, vitamin D (P = 0.003) was negatively associated with WHtR. In obese youth, stearic acid (P = 0.037), DGLA (P < 0.0001), and D6D (P < 0.0001) were positively associated and OA (P = 0.0008), D9D-18 (P = 0.0006), and vitamin D (P < 0.0001) were negatively associated with WHtR. In longitudinal analysis, baseline linoleic acid (P = 0.018), n-6:n-3 (ω-3:ω-6) FA ratio (P = 0.029), vitamin D (P = 0.003), and vitamin E (P < 0.0001) were negatively correlated with WHtR at follow-up only in obese participants.
CONCLUSIONS: In T1D youth, plasma FAs and vitamins are associated with WHtR and are modified by weight status. These associations are particularly marked in obese youth.