Influence of using different sources of carotenoid data in epidemiologic studies

J Am Diet Assoc. 1996 Dec;96(12):1271-5. doi: 10.1016/S0002-8223(96)00332-X.


Objective: This study compared distributions of carotenoid intake and diet-serum correlations using two sources of carotenoid data: the US Department of Agriculture-National Cancer Institute (USDA-NCI) carotenoid food composition database and values accompanying the Block-NCI Health Habits and History Questionnaire (HHHQ).

Design and subjects: A 100-item food frequency questionnaire was used to collect dietary data from 2,152 adults, aged 43 to 85 years, who were participating in the Nutritional Factors in Eye Disease Study, a population-based study designed to evaluate nutritional factors associated with age-related eye disease. Blood samples were collected from a random sample of 400 nonfasting participants in the study.

Results: Median carotenoid intakes using HHHQ vs USDA-NCI data were alpha carotene (229 vs 223 micrograms/day), beta carotene (1,321 vs 1,325 micrograms/day), beta cryptoxanthin (72 vs 21 micrograms/day), lutein + zeaxanthin (653 vs 811 micrograms/day), and lycopene (593 vs 1,615 micrograms/day). all paired differences in carotenoid intake were significantly different from zero (Wilcoxon signed-rank, P < .0001). Despite these differences, the two databases similarly ranked individuals according to carotenoid intake: Spearman correlations ranged from .71 (lycopene) to .93 (alpha carotene). Differences between diet-serum correlations (adjusted for energy, body mass index, high density lipoprotein, and total cholesterol) using HHHQ vs USDA-NCI data were minor and not significant (P > .05): alpha carotene (r = .33 vs .32), beta carotene (r = .27 vs .32), beta cryptoxanthin (r = .48 vs .53), lutein+zeaxanthin (r = .28 vs .24), and lycopene (r = .29 vs .25).

Conclusions: Although estimates of carotenoid intake differed significantly, only minor differences in carotenoid rankings and diet-serum correlations were observed using either data source in this population.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Carotenoids / administration & dosage*
  • Carotenoids / blood
  • Cohort Studies
  • Databases, Factual
  • Eye Diseases / etiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • National Institutes of Health (U.S.)
  • Regression Analysis
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States
  • United States Department of Agriculture


  • Biomarkers
  • Carotenoids