Occupational social class, educational level and area deprivation independently predict plasma ascorbic acid concentration: a cross-sectional population based study in the Norfolk cohort of the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer (EPIC-Norfolk)

Eur J Clin Nutr. 2004 Oct;58(10):1432-5. doi: 10.1038/sj.ejcn.1601979.


Objective: To investigate the independent association between three different measures of socioeconomic status and plasma ascorbic acid level.

Design: Cross-sectional population based study.

Setting and participants: 20 292 men and women aged 39-79 y who participated in the EPIC-Norfolk study.

Results: Individuals in manual social classes, who had no educational qualifications or those who lived in the most deprived areas had significantly lower levels of plasma ascorbic acid compared to those in nonmanual social classes, with at least O-level qualifications or who lived in less deprived areas. The magnitude of effect for each measure of socioeconomic status was greater in current smokers compared to current nonsmokers.

Conclusion: Education and social class were stronger predictors of differences in ascorbic acid levels, an indicator of dietary health behaviour, than a deprivation index based on the Townsend score. This suggests that education could be particularly important in influencing large socioeconomic differentials in health related behaviours and potentially, health outcomes in the UK.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Ascorbic Acid / blood*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Educational Status*
  • England
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Occupations
  • Poverty
  • Poverty Areas*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Smoking / adverse effects
  • Smoking / blood*
  • Social Class*
  • Socioeconomic Factors


  • Ascorbic Acid