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Fatty acids and cardiometabolic health: a review of studies in Chinese populations

Abstract

Rapid nutrition transition from plant-based traditional diet to westernized diet has led to dramatically heightening burdens of cardiometabolic diseases in China in past decades. Recently, national surveys reported that poor dietary quality including low marine n-3 fatty acids and high intakes of red meat and processed meat was associated with considerably elevated cardiometabolic deaths. Previous studies mainly from Western population-based cohorts have indicated that not only fat quantity but also quality linked with different cardiometabolic outcomes. Compared with Western peoples, Asian peoples, including Chinese, are known to have different dietary patterns and lifestyle, as well as genetic heterogeneities, which may modify fatty acid metabolism and disease susceptibility in certain degree. To date, there were limited prospective studies investigating the relationships between fatty acids and cardiometabolic disease outcomes in Chinese, and most existing studies were cross-sectional nature and within one or two region(s). Notably, shifting dietary patterns could change not only amount, types, and ratio of fatty acids accounting for overall energy intake, but also their food sources and ratio to other macronutrients. Moreover, large geographic and urban-rural variations in prevalence of cardiometabolic diseases among Chinese may also reflect the effects of socioeconomic development and local diets on health status. Therefore, current review will summarize available literatures with more focus on the Chinese-based studies which may extend current knowledge about the roles of fatty acids in pathogenesis of cardiometabolic diseases for Asian populations and also provide useful information for trans-ethnic comparisons with other populations.

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Fig. 1: The categories, major food sources, and diseases associations of different fatty acids.

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Funding

This work was supported by the Ministry of Science and Technology of China (2016YFC1304903, and 2017YFC0909700), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (30930081, 81970684, 81700700, 81321062, 81170734, and 81471013), the Chinese Academy of Sciences (XDB38010300, ZDBS-SSW-DQC-02), Shanghai Municipal Science and Technology Major Project (2017SHZDZX01), and China Scholarship Council (State Scholarship Fund 201904910069).

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LS performed the literature review and wrote the manuscript. GZ, HL, and XL contributed to the critical revision of the manuscript for important intellectual content. All authors were in agreement with the content of the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Xu Lin.

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Sun, L., Zong, G., Li, H. et al. Fatty acids and cardiometabolic health: a review of studies in Chinese populations. Eur J Clin Nutr 75, 253–266 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41430-020-00709-0

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