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Am J Clin Nutr. 2001 Apr;73(4):777-85.

Serum concentrations of beta-carotene and alpha-tocopherol are associated with diet, smoking, and general and central adiposity.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, Lund University, Malmö University Hospital, Malmö, Sweden.



Previous studies of associations between diet, obesity, and blood concentrations of alpha-tocopherol and beta-carotene have been equivocal. Furthermore, most studies used only body mass index (BMI) as an obesity measure.


Our objectives were to examine the associations between energy and nutrient intakes, alcohol consumption, tobacco use, and serum cholesterol and serum concentrations of alpha-tocopherol and beta-carotene, and to examine the associations between different measures of general and central adiposity and serum concentrations of alpha-tocopherol and beta-carotene.


This was a cross-sectional, population-based study of 253 men and 276 women aged 46-67 y. Nutrient data were collected by a modified diet history method. Measures of obesity included BMI, percentage of body fat (impedance analysis), waist-to-hip ratio, and waist circumference. The associations between serum nutrient concentrations and the other factors were examined by multiple linear regression.


Twenty-one percent of men and 34% of women used antioxidant supplements. The mean BMI was 26.1 in men and 25.4 in women. Serum beta-carotene concentration was positively associated with serum cholesterol concentration, fiber intake, and beta-carotene intake, and negatively associated with smoking and all measures of obesity. In men, serum beta-carotene concentration was not significantly associated with central adiposity after adjustment for body fat. Serum alpha-tocopherol concentration was positively correlated with serum cholesterol, obesity, and vitamin E intake. In women, serum alpha-tocopherol concentration was also positively associated with intakes of ascorbic acid and selenium. Serum alpha-tocopherol concentration was associated with central adiposity after adjustment for body fat.


Serum beta-carotene and alpha-tocopherol concentrations have different associations with diet, smoking, general adiposity, and central adiposity.

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