Inadequate daily intakes of n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) in the general French population of children (3–10 years) and adolescents (11–17 years): the INCA2 survey

  • Philippe GuesnetEmail author
  • Jessica Tressou
  • Benjamin Buaud
  • Noëmie Simon
  • Stéphane Pasteau
Short Communication



This paper deals with the dietary daily intakes of main polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) in French children and adolescents.


Dietary intakes of main PUFA were determined from a general French population of 1500 children (3–10 years) and adolescents (11–17 years) by using the most recent set of national robust data on food (National Survey INCA 2 performed in 2006 and 2007).


Main results showed that mean daily intakes of total fat and n-6 PUFA linoleic acid (LA, 18:2n-6) were close to current recommended values for children and adolescent populations. However, 80% (children) to 90% (adolescents) of our French populations not only ingested low quantities of n-3 long-chain PUFA (docosahexaenoic (22:6n-3) and eicosapentaenoic (20:5n-3) acids) but also very low quantities of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA, 18:3n-3) at the origin of a non-balanced n-6/n-3 ratio. Inadequate consumption of EPA + DHA was also observed in subgroups of infants and adolescent who consumed more than two servings/week of fish.


Such disequilibrium in PUFA dietary intakes in favor of n-6 PUFA could have adverse impact on cell membrane incorporation of long-chain n-3 PUFA and deleterious impacts on the health of children and adolescents. Promoting the consumption of both vegetable oils and margarines rich in ALA, and oily fish rich in long-chain n-3 PUFA might improve such PUFA disequilibrium.


Dietary intake Polyunsaturated fatty acids Children Adolescents France 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

JT and SP reported grants from Terres Univia during the conduct of the study. BB, PG, and NS have no conflicts of interest to declare. The authors thank Eric Guesnet for reviewing English.


  1. 1.
    Simopoulos AP (2011) Importance of the omega-6/omega-3 balance in health and disease: evolutionary aspects of diet. World Rev Nutr Diet 102:10–21CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health & Safety (ANSES) (2011) Actualisation des apports nutritionnels conseillés pour les acides gras. Rapport d’expertise collective. Accessed Oct 2017
  3. 3.
    Sioen I, van Lieshout L, Eilander A, Fleith M, Lohner S, Szommer A et al (2017) Systematic review on N-3 and N-6 polyunsaturated fatty acid Intake in European Countries in Light of the Current Recommendations—focus on specific population groups. Ann Nutr Metab 70:39–50CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Blasbalg TL, Hibbeln JR, Ramsden CE, Majchrzak SF, Rawlings RR (2011) Changes in consumption of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in the United States during the 20th century. Am J Clin Nutr 93:950–962CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Tressou J, Moulin P, Vergès B, Le Guillou C, Simon N, Pasteau S (2016) Fatty acid dietary intake in the general French population: are the French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health & Safety (ANSES) national recommendations met? Br J Nutr 116:1966–1973CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Wood KE, Mantzioris E, Gibson RA, Ramsden CE, Muhlhausler BS (2015) The effect of modifying dietary LA and ALA intakes on omega-3 long chain polyunsaturated fatty acid (n-3 LCPUFA) status in human adults: a systematic review and commentary. Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids 95:47–55CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Food & Agriculture Organisation (FAO) (2010) Fats and fatty acids in human nutrition. Report of an expert consultation. Accessed Oct 2017
  8. 8.
    European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) (2010) Scientific Opinion on Dietary Reference Values for fats, including saturated fatty acids, polyunsaturated fatty acids, monounsaturated fatty acids, trans fatty acids, and cholesterol. EFSA J 8:1461–1568Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Guesnet P, Lallemand SM, Alessandri JM, Jouin M, Cunnane SC (2011) α-Linolenate reduces the dietary requirement for linoleate in the growing rat. Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids 85:353–360CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    ANSES Ciqual 2013 database. Accessed Oct 2016
  11. 11.
    Harika RK, Cosgrove MC, Osendarp SJ, Verhoef P, Zock PL (2011) Fatty acid intakes of children and adolescents are not in line with the dietary intake recommendations for future cardiovascular health: a systematic review of dietary intake data from thirty countries. Br J Nutr 106:307–316CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Vyncke KE, Libuda L, De Vriendt T, Moreno LA, Van Winckel M, HELENA consortium, et al (2012) Dietary fatty acid intake, its food sources and determinants in European adolescents: the HELENA (Healthy Lifestyle in Europe by Nutrition in Adolescence) Study. Br J Nutr 108:2261–2273CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Libuda L, Alexy U, Kersting M (2013) Time trends in dietary fat intake in a sample of German children and adolescents between 2000 and 2010: not quantity, but quality is the issue. Br J Nutr 111:141–150CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Ruiz E, Ávila JM, Valero T, Del Pozo S, Rodriguez P, Aranceta-Bartrina J, Gil Á, González-Gross M, Ortega RM, Serra-Majem L, Varela-Moreiras G (2016) Macronutrient distribution and dietary sources in the Spanish population: findings from the ANIBES study. Nutrients 8:177CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Sheppard KW, Cheatham CL (2018) Omega-6/omega-3 fatty acid intake of children and older adults in the U.S.: dietary intake in comparison to current dietary recommendations and the Healthy Eating Index. Lipids Health Dis 17:43CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Jandacek RJ (2017) Linoleic acid: a nutritional quandary. Healthcare (Basel) 5(2):E25CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Ailhaud G, Massiera F, Weill P, Legrand P, Alessandri JM, Guesnet P (2006) Temporal changes in dietary fats: role of n-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids in excessive adipose tissue development and relationship to obesity. Prog Lipid Res 45:203–236CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Hulshof KF, van Erp-Baart MA, Anttolainen M, Becker W, Church SM, Couet C et al (1999) Intake of fatty acids in western Europe with emphasis on trans fatty acids: the TRANSFAIR Study. Eur J Clin Nutr 53:143–157CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    ANSES (2015) Apports en acides gras de la population vivant en France et comparaison aux apports nutritionnels conseillés définis en 2010. Accessed Feb 2018
  20. 20.
    Meyer BJ (2016) Australians are not Meeting the Recommended Intakes for Omega-3 Long Chain Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids: results of an Analysis from the 2011–2012 National Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey. Nutrients 8:111CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Gopinath B, Moshtaghian H, Flood VM, Louie JC, Liew G, Burlutsky G, Mitchell P (2017) Pattern of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid intake and fish consumption and retinal vascular caliber in children and adolescents: a cohort study. PLoS One 12:e0172109CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Richter CK, Bowen KJ, Mozaffarian D, Kris-Etherton PM, Skulas-Ray AC (2017) Total Long-Chain n-3 Fatty Acid Intake and Food Sources in the United States Compared to Recommended Intakes: NHANES 2003–2008. Lipids 52:917–927CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Magnusson J, Kull I, Westman M, Håkansson N, Wolk A, Melén E, Wickman M, Bergström A (2015) Fish and polyunsaturated fat intake and development of allergic and nonallergic rhinitis. J Allergy Clin Immunol 136:1247–1253CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Bonafini S, Antoniazzi F, Maffeis C, Minuz P, Fava C (2015) Beneficial effects of ω-3 PUFA in children on cardiovascular risk factors during childhood and adolescence. Prostaglandins Other Lipid Mediat 120:72–79CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Gispert-Llaurado M, Perez-Garcia M, Escribano J, Closa-Monasterolo R, Luque V, Grote V et al (2016) Fish consumption in mid-childhood and its relationship to neuropsychological outcomes measured in 7–9 year old children using a NUTRIMENTHE neuropsychological battery. Clin Nutr 35:1301–1307CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Damsgaard CT, Lauritzen L, Hauger H, Vuholm S, Teisen MN, Ritz C, Hansen M, Niclasen J, Mølgaard C (2016) Effects of oily fish intake on cardiovascular risk markers, cognitive function, and behavior in school-aged children: study protocol for a randomized controlled trial. Trials 17:510CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    Guesnet P, Ailhaud G, Delplanque B, Alessandri JM (2013) Place des lipides dans l’alimentation du nourrisson. OCL 20:79–87CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    Couëdelo L, Le Guillou C, Pasteau S, Simon N, Tressou J (2016) Données récentes sur les apports en acides gras des français. Lipid’ Nutri + 30. Accessed Feb 2018
  29. 29.
    Vaysse C, Billeaud C, Guesnet P, Couëdelo L, Alessandri JM, Putet G, Combe N (2011) Teneurs en acides gras polyinsaturés essentiel du lait maternel en France: évolution des teneurs en acides linoléique et alpha-linolénique. Med Nutr 2:5–9CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Philippe Guesnet
    • 1
    Email author
  • Jessica Tressou
    • 2
  • Benjamin Buaud
    • 3
  • Noëmie Simon
    • 4
  • Stéphane Pasteau
    • 5
  1. 1.PG ConsultingBures sur YvetteFrance
  2. 2.UMR MIA-Paris, AgroParisTech, INRA, Université Paris-SaclayParisFrance
  3. 3.RDI Nutrition Métabolisme and Santé, ITERG, Institut des Corps GrasCanejanFrance
  4. 4.Terres UniviaParis cedex 08France
  5. 5.Phasme ConsultingParisFrance

Personalised recommendations