Posted on Apr 13, 2011, 6 a.m.
High intakes of omega-3 fatty acids may reduce the risk of obesity-related chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease.
Yup’ik Eskimos, an indigenous people of the state of Alaska USA), have similar obesity rates to the lower 48 states, but the incidence of type-2 diabetes is only 3.3%, compared with 7.7% nationally. Zeina Makhoul, from Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center (Washington, USA), and colleagues observe that this apparent reduction in diabetes risk is linked to the observation that the Eskimos’ average consumption of omega-3 fatty acids from fish is 20 times more than people in the lower 48 states. Furthermore, in Eskimos with low blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids, most notably EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), obesity was found to strongly increase blood triglycerides and C-reactive protein (CRP), a measure of inflammation, both of which when elevated increase the risk of heart disease and, possibly, diabetes.
Z Makhoul, A R Kristal, R Gulati, B Luick, A Bersamin, D O'Brien, S E Hopkins, C B Stephensen, K L Stanhope, P J Havel, et al. “Associations of obesity with triglycerides and C-reactive protein are attenuated in adults with high red blood cell eicosapentaenoic and docosahexaenoic acids.” European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 23 March 2011.