Free fatty acids as an indicator of the nonfasted state in children

Shavonne M. Collins, Miranda M. Broadney, Nejla Ghane, Elisabeth K. Davis, Manuela Jaramillo, Lisa M. Shank, Sheila M. Brady, Jack A. Yanovski*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: Ensuring children are fasting for blood draws is necessary to diagnose abnormalities in glucose homeostasis. We sought to determine if serum free fatty acid (FFA) concentrations might be a useful marker to differentiate the fed and fasted states among children. METHODS: A total of 442 inpatient (fasting) and 323 (postglucose load) oral glucose tolerance test samples of glucose, insulin, and FFA from children (age 5–18 years) who had healthy weight, overweight, or obesity were examined by receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve analysis to identify a cut point for nonfasting. In a cross-sectional study, we compared mean FFA and percentage of FFA values below this cut point as a function of inpatient (n = 442) versus outpatient (n = 442) setting. RESULTS: The area under the curve of FFA was significantly better (P values, .001) than the area under the curve of glucose or insulin for identifying nonfasting. FFA,287 mEq/mL had 99.0% sensitivity and 98.0% specificity for nonfasting. Mean FFA was lower in outpatients than inpatients (P, .001); only 1.6% inpatient but 9.7% outpatient FFA values were consistent with nonfasting (P, .001). CONCLUSIONS: Clinicians cannot assume that pediatric patients are adequately fasted on arrival for fasting blood work. On the basis of having significantly lower outpatient than inpatient FFA values and more frequently suppressed FFA, children appeared less likely to be fasting at outpatient appointments. FFA value,287 mEq/mL was a sensitive and specific cutoff for nonfasting in children that may prove clinically useful.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere20183896
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2019
Externally publishedYes


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