Although studies have long established a significant link between dietary habits and quality of life (QOL), the specific impact of fatty acids on QOL have not been evaluated.
To investigate the association between fatty acid quality indices (FAQIs) and QOL, a cross-sectional study was conducted among 378 overweight or obese women.
Randomly recruited from 20 health centres in Tehran, Iran, the participants were aged between 18 to 68 years, and had a body mass index (BMI) of 25 to 40.
Several anthropometric indices, blood pressure and biochemical measurements were obtained using standard protocols.
The participants recorded their dietary intake via a 147-item semi-quantitative food frequency questionnaire (FFQ) that was completed in the presence of a dietitian. The data was analysed for energy intake, macronutrients and micronutrients.
The FAQI was defined based on the cholesterol-saturated fat index (CSI) and the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 (N6/N3) essential fatty acids consumed.
The CSI measures dietary fat quality in foods. A lower CSI signifies lesser cholesterol and/or saturated fat content. On the other hand, a N6/N3 ratio that is too high may cause excess inflammation in the body, increasing the risk of various diseases.
A self-administered 36-Item Short Form Survey (SF-36) was used to measure QOL. The questionnaire covered eight areas, including physical and social functioning, bodily pain, general health, and mental health. Each dimension produced a score ranging from 0 (lowest QOL) to 100 (highest QOL).
The N6/N3 ratio was measured for 279 participants, while the CSI was taken for 378 participants.
According to the findings, the mean total QOL score was 61.69, and the mean FAQI estimate for the CSI group and the N6/N3 ratio group was 13.24 per day and 12.65mg/day respectively.
It was also found that the N6/N3 ratio was negatively and marginally associated with general health and physical abilities.
“More significantly, participants with a higher N6/N3 ratio obtained lower scores on social functioning. This suggested that a higher consumption of fatty acids, especially trans and saturated fatty acids, is linked to poorer QOL,” the authors said.
Quality of dietary fat is key
In developing countries such as Iran, the prevalence of obesity is reported to be as high as 76.4%, which contributes greatly to lower QOL and premature death.
There are several objective and subjective components to QOL, including an individual’s perception of their life based on the physical and emotional abilities to perform everyday activities, vitality, goals, and more.
Some studies have claimed that women tend to have lower QOL scores than men. Also, obese and non-obese people usually have differing QOL scores.
Furthermore, there is a body of evidence indicating that QOL can be affected by nutritional factors such as dietary intake.
For instance, high consumption of saturated fat may lead to physical dysfunction and general health disturbances, and trans fat to mental disorders and bodily pain.
“Fats are an important part of the diet and the primary source of energy. However, the quality of dietary fat has a major impact on health status and, as a result, QOL.
“The intake of cholesterol and saturated fatty acids can be reduced through better food choices, such as a low-fat diet consisting of more fruits and vegetables,” the authors added.
It should be noted that there are several limitations to this study.
As it focused only on obese women, the findings are not representative of men and other population groups. Moreover, the FFQ was unable to assess the intake of certain dietary fatty acids like omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids.
Further longitudinal and cohort studies that address these limitations are needed to elucidate the relationship between FAQIs and QOL more comprehensively.
Source: PubMed Central
“The association between fatty acid quality indices and quality of life among overweight and obese women: A cross-sectional study”
Authors: Niloufar Rasaei, et al