Article open access publication

Plasma Elaidic Acid Level as Biomarker of Industrial Trans Fatty Acids and Risk of Weight Change: Report from the EPIC Study

PLoS ONE, Public Library of Science (PLoS), ISSN 1932-6203

Volume 10, 2, 2015

DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0118206, Dimensions: pub.1041760581, PMC: PMC4326417, PMID: 25675445,



  1. (1) International Agency For Research On Cancer, grid.17703.32
  2. (2) National Institute for Public Health and the Environment, grid.31147.30
  3. (3) University of Malaya, grid.10347.31
  4. (4) University Medical Center Utrecht, grid.7692.a
  5. (5) Imperial College London, grid.7445.2
  6. (6) Instituto de Investigacion Sanitaria de Palma (IdISPa) and CIBER Fisiopatología de la Obesidad y Nutrición (CIBEROBN), Spain
  7. (7) Aarhus University, grid.7048.b, AU
  8. (8) Centre for research in epidemiology and population health, grid.463845.8
  9. (9) Institut Gustave Roussy, grid.14925.3b
  10. (10) University of Paris-Sud, grid.5842.b
  11. (11) German Cancer Research Center, grid.7497.d
  12. (12) German Institute of Human Nutrition, grid.418213.d
  13. (13) Hellenic Health Foundation, grid.424637.0
  14. (14) National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, grid.5216.0
  15. (15) Fondazione IRCCS Istituto Nazionale dei Tumori, grid.417893.0
  16. (16) Istituto per lo Studio e la Prevenzione Oncologica, grid.417623.5
  17. (17) University of Naples Federico II, grid.4691.a
  18. (18) Department of Community Medicine, University of Tromsø-The Arctic University of Norway, Norway
  19. (19) Institut d'Investigació Biomédica de Bellvitge, grid.418284.3
  20. (20) Department of Epidemiology, Murcia Regional Health Council, Murcia, Spain
  21. (21) CIBER Epidemiology and Public Health CIBERESP, Spain
  22. (22) Instituto de Salud Pública de Navarra, grid.419126.9
  23. (23) Andalusian School of Public Health, grid.413740.5
  24. (24) Public health Direction and Biodonostia- CIBERESP, Basque Regional Health Department, San Sebastian, Spain
  25. (25) Public Health Directorate, Asturias, Spain
  26. (26) Umeå University, grid.12650.30
  27. (27) University of Gothenburg, grid.8761.8
  28. (28) Lund University, grid.4514.4
  29. (29) University of Oxford, grid.4991.5
  30. (30) University of Cambridge, grid.5335.0
  31. (31) MRC Epidemiology Unit, Institute of Metabolic Science, Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge, United Kingdom


BACKGROUND: Few epidemiological studies have examined the association between dietary trans fatty acids and weight gain, and the evidence remains inconsistent. The main objective of the study was to investigate the prospective association between biomarker of industrial trans fatty acids and change in weight within the large study European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) cohort. METHODS: Baseline plasma fatty acid concentrations were determined in a representative EPIC sample from the 23 participating EPIC centers. A total of 1,945 individuals were followed for a median of 4.9 years to monitor weight change. The association between elaidic acid level and percent change of weight was investigated using a multinomial logistic regression model, adjusted by length of follow-up, age, energy, alcohol, smoking status, physical activity, and region. RESULTS: In women, doubling elaidic acid was associated with a decreased risk of weight loss (odds ratio (OR) = 0.69, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 0.55-0.88, p = 0.002) and a trend was observed with an increased risk of weight gain during the 5-year follow-up (OR = 1.23, 95% CI = 0.97-1.56, p = 0.082) (p-trend<.0001). In men, a trend was observed for doubling elaidic acid level and risk of weight loss (OR = 0.82, 95% CI = 0.66-1.01, p = 0.062) while no significant association was found with risk of weight gain during the 5-year follow-up (OR = 1.08, 95% CI = 0.88-1.33, p = 0.454). No association was found for saturated and cis-monounsaturated fatty acids. CONCLUSIONS: These data suggest that a high intake of industrial trans fatty acids may decrease the risk of weight loss, particularly in women. Prevention of obesity should consider limiting the consumption of highly processed foods, the main source of industrially-produced trans fatty acids.


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