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P208 Serum Markers of Fruits and Vegetables are Low in Low-Income Adults in the United States

      Background

      Poverty alters food selection for calorie dense foods to the detriment of nutrient dense foods such as fruits and vegetables (FV).

      Objective

      Serum carotenoids concentrations were analyzed to ascertain relationships with income level among the United States population.

      Study Design, Settings, Participants

      The phlebotomy sample of the United States National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2003-2004 was analyzed to study the relationship between income level and blood serum markers from FV. Data from 10,952 adults, comprising 5,478 men, and 5,474 women were analyzed for this study. Multivariable regression models were used to study the associations between income level, defined by the United States Bureau of the Census, and serum carotenoids concentration. Those categorized as low-income had income <130% of the federal poverty threshold, whereas those with income ≥130% of the federal poverty threshold were categorized as high-income.

      Results

      Compared to high-income adults, low-income adults had significantly lower serum concentration of α carotene (mean ± SE) (3.3 ± 0.1 vs 4.2 ± 0.7), β carotene (13.4 ± 0.3 vs 16.6 ± 0.2), lutein (8.8 ± 0.1vs 10.6 ± 0.1) and lycopene (19.4 ± 0.2 vs 21.7 ± 0.2) (all P < .001). Low-income adults were significantly more likely to have serum concentration that was below the median [Odds Ratio; 95% CI]: α-carotene (1.77; 1.41-2.25), β-carotene (1.62; 1.28-2.04), lutein (1.52; 1.12-2.17), and lycopene (1.42; 1.13-1.79), all P < .001.

      Conclusion

      Being low-income associates with lower serum concentration, and possibly low consumption of carotenoid-rich foods such as FV. Food assistance for low-income adults should include options that improve consumption of carotenoid-rich foods such as FV.
      Funding: None.

      Appendix. Supplementary data