Global estimates of dietary intake of docosahexaenoic acid and arachidonic acid in developing and developed countries

Stewart Forsyth (Lead / Corresponding author), Sheila Gautier, Norman Salem

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    Background/aim: For international recommendations on docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and arachidonic acid (ARA) dietary intake to be valid, there needs to be a greater understanding of dietary patterns across both the developed and developing world. The aim of this investigation was to provide a global overview of dietary intake of DHA and ARA.

    Methods: Food balance sheets from the Food and Agriculture Organisation Statistics Division and fatty acid composition data from Australian food composition tables in Nutrient Tables 2010 were utilised to generate median per capita intake estimates for DHA and ARA in 175 countries worldwide.

    Results: Estimated dietary intake per capita for DHA and ARA in 47 developed and 128 developing countries demonstrated that 48% of the 175 countries have an ARA intake of <150 mg/day and 64% have a dietary DHA intake of <200 mg/day. There was a direct relationship between dietary ARA and DHA intake and the per capita gross national income of the country. Regional analysis showed the lowest ARA and DHA dietary intake in Sub-Saharan Africa and Central and Southern Asian populations.

    Conclusions: This study demonstrates there are many populations worldwide that have ARA and DHA intake that do not reflect current international recommendations, and the public health consequences of this global inadequacy need to be urgently considered.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)258-267
    Number of pages10
    JournalAnnals of Nutrition and Metabolism
    Issue number4
    Early online date9 Jun 2016
    Publication statusPublished - Jul 2016


    • Arachidonic acid
    • Docosahexaenoci acid
    • Global dietary intake
    • Infants
    • Adults


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