Background: Evidence of predictive power of various fatty acids on the risk of metabolic syndrome was scanty. We evaluated the role of various fatty acids, including saturated fat, monounsaturated fat, transfat, n-6 fatty acid, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), for the risk of the metabolic syndrome in Taiwan. Results: A nested case-control study based on 1000 cases of metabolic syndrome and 1: 1 matched control subjects. For saturated fat, monounsaturated fat and transfat, the higher the concentration the higher the risk for metabolic syndrome: participants in the highest quintile had a 2.22-fold (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.66 to 2.97) higher risk of metabolic syndrome. In addition, the participants in higher EPA quintiles were less likely to have the risk of metabolic syndrome (adjusted risk, 0.46 [0.34 to 0.61] for the fifth quintile). Participants in the highest risk group (low EPA and high transfat) had a 2.36-fold higher risk of metabolic syndrome (95% CI, 1.38 to 4.03), compared with those in the lowest risk group (high EPA and low transfat). For prediction power, the area under ROC curves increased from 0.926 in the baseline model to 0.928 after adding fatty acids. The net reclassification improvement for metabolic syndrome risk was substantial for saturated fat (2.1%, P = 0.05). Conclusions: Plasma fatty acid components improved the prediction of the metabolic syndrome risk in Taiwan.
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