Research Original Research| Volume 114, ISSUE 4, P543-551, April 2014

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Estimation of Fish Intake in Asian and White Female Adolescents, and Association with 2-Year Changes in Body Fatness and Body Fat Distribution: The Female Adolescent Maturation Study

Published:October 29, 2013DOI:



      Fish is an important source of long-chain n-3 fatty acids in the diets of female adolescents, which may affect adipose tissue deposition.


      The purpose of this study was to evaluate fish intake in Asian and white female adolescents, and to determine whether fish intake was associated with changes in body fatness and body fat distribution in this population.


      A cross-sectional analysis of fish intake using 3-day food records (n=200), and a prospective analysis of baseline fish intake on anthropometric measurements 2 years later was conducted (n=103).


      Participants included female adolescents (aged 9 to 14 years) who were recruited from the Kaiser Permanente Oahu membership database in 2000-2001 as part of the Female Adolescent Maturation study (N=349).

      Statistical analysis

      Fish intake and the proportion of participants eating 8 oz fish per week was compared between Asian, white, and mixed Asian/white ethnic groups using Kruskal-Wallis test, Wilcoxon rank sum test, and χ2 test, respectively. The effect of fish intake on anthropometric measurements was assessed using Spearman’s rank correlation coefficient and linear regression analyses, adjusting for demographic, pubertal, anthropometric, activity, and dietary parameters.


      Asians consumed more fish (0.85 oz/wk [range=0.00 to 4.74 oz/wk]) than whites (0.00 oz/wk [0.00 to 0.40 oz/wk]; P=0.0001), and were more likely to eat 8 oz fish per week (13 of 68 vs 2 of 51, respectively; P=0.014). Greater fish intake corresponded to smaller changes in waist circumference when controlling for age, ethnicity, puberty, activity, energy intake, and baseline waist circumference (P=0.026), but not after adjusting for parental and additional dietary parameters (P>0.10).


      Most female adolescents did not consume the recommended amount of fish, a problem that was more common in whites than Asians. The protective effect of fish intake on abdominal obesity warrants further study.


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      D. E. St-Jules is a doctoral degree graduate in nutrition, Department of Human Nutrition, Food, and Animal Science, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu.


      C. A. Watters is a certified nutrition support clinician and an assistant professor, Department of Human Nutrition, Food, and Animal Science, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu.


      R. Novotny is a professor, Department of Human Nutrition, Food, and Animal Science, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu.