Objective: This study tested the hypothesis that neighborhood deprivation will be associated with lower levels of serum carotenoids in comparison with wealthy residential areas.
Design: Cross-sectional, nationally representative survey data were used to assess the relationship between neighborhood level socioeconomic status and serum carotenoids.
Subjects: Seventeen thousand two participants aged 17 years and older from the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey were linked with 1990 census data.
Main outcome measures: Serum levels of lycopene, beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, lutein/zeaxanthin, and beta-cryptoxanthin.
Statistical analysis: Multivariate linear regression was used to model the association of serum carotenoids and neighborhood deprivation, which is a summary index of 11 indicators for tract level socioeconomic status. Adjustments are made for individual level age, sex, years of education, household income, employment, race/ethnicity, body mass index, serum cotinine, alcohol use, physical activity, and serum cholesterol.
Results: Multivariate analysis revealed a negative and statistically significant association between high levels of neighborhood deprivation and beta-carotene (beta=-2.98 microg/dL [-0.06 micromol/L], P=0.00), alpha-carotene (beta=-1.28 microg/dL [-0.02 micromol/L], P=<0.0001), lutein/zeaxanthin (-1.69 microg/dL [-0.03 micromol/L], P=0.00, beta-cryptoxanthin (beta=-1.34 microg/dL [-0.02 micromol/L], P<0.0001), and total carotenoids (beta=-8.20 microg/dL, P=<0.0001). Lycopene was not related to neighborhood deprivation. Adjusted mean levels of carotenoids for high deprivation neighborhoods were lower than neighborhoods with low deprivation: beta-carotene=8.72 microg/dL [0.16 micromol/L] vs 20.64 microg/dL [0.38 micromol/L], alpha-carotene=0.44 microg/dL [0.008 micromol/L] vs 5.56 microg/dL [0.10 micromol/L], lutein/zeaxanthin=13.79 microg/dL [0.24 micromol/L] vs 20.55 microg/dL [0.36 micromol/L], beta-cryptoxanthin=4.57 microg/dL [0.08 micromol/L] vs 9.93 microg/dL [0.18 micromol/L], lycopene=22.07 microg/dL [0.41 micromol/L] vs 25.63 microg/dL [0.48 micromol/L], and total=49.56 microg/dL vs 82.36 microg/dL.
Conclusions: Neighborhood deprivation was associated with lower serum levels of carotenoids. There was a substantial disparity between low deprivation and high deprivation residential areas with respect to fruit and vegetable intake.