Associations of Serum Carotenoids with DXA-Derived Body Fat and Fat Distribution in Chinese Adults: A Prospective Study

Published:March 04, 2020DOI:



      Most previous studies have examined the associations between carotenoids and anthropometrics with cross-sectional designs. Few studies have investigated the associations between serum carotenoids and fat mass and fat distribution (general vs central type).


      This study aimed to explore the associations of serum carotenoids with body fat and fat distribution in Chinese adults.


      Cross-sectional and longitudinal analyses of a prospective, community-based cohort were performed.


      There were 4,048 participants aged 40 to 75 years recruited in the Guangzhou Nutrition and Health Study from 2008 to 2013.

      Main outcome measures

      Serum carotenoids were assessed at baseline. Anthropometrics, fat mass (FM), and percentage FM (%FM) over the total body, trunk, limbs, and android and gynoid regions were obtained by dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry for 3,002 participants between 2011 and 2013 and for 2,537 participants after 3.1 years.

      Statistical analysis

      Cross-sectional and longitudinal analyses were performed to compare the mean differences in adiposity indices among the quartiles of carotenoids.


      Covariance analyses showed significant inverse associations between serum total carotenoid levels and adiposity indices cross-sectionally (all P trends<0.05). The percentage mean differences in quartile 4 (vs 1) in FM and %FM were much more pronounced in the trunk (–15.4% and –7.74%) and android area (–16.6% and –8.59%) than those in the limbs (–8.31% and –4.51%) and gynoid area (–7.76% and –2.71%) (all P<0.001). Longitudinal results revealed that higher total carotenoids were associated with significantly lower 3-year increases in body mass index (calculated as kg/m2); waist circumference; waist-to-hip ratio; body FM in the limbs and android and gynoid area; and %FM in total body, trunk, and limbs (all P trends<0.05). Regarding individual carotenoids, β-carotene tended to have the most notable beneficial associations with the majority of fat indices, especially for cross-sectional analyses.


      Serum carotenoid concentrations are inversely associated with body fat, especially in the abdominal region, in Chinese adults.


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      C. Wang is a physician, Department of Clinical Nutrition, Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hospital, Guangzhou, China; at the time of the study, she was a research associate, Department of Epidemiology, Guangdong Provincial Key Laboratory of Food, Nutrition and Health, School of Public Health, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou, China.


      C.-w. Ling is a doctoral candidate, Department of Epidemiology, Guangdong Provincial Key Laboratory of Food, Nutrition and Health, School of Public Health, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou, China.


      D. Ding is a doctoral candidate, Department of Epidemiology, Guangdong Provincial Key Laboratory of Food, Nutrition and Health, School of Public Health, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou, China.


      Y.-h. Li is a postgraduate student, Department of Epidemiology, Guangdong Provincial Key Laboratory of Food, Nutrition and Health, School of Public Health, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou, China.


      Y.-m. Chen is a professor, Department of Epidemiology, Guangdong Provincial Key Laboratory of Food, Nutrition and Health, School of Public Health, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou, China.


      W.-t. Cao is a lecturer, School of Public Health, Hainan Medical University, Haikou, China.


      X.-y. Tang is a physician, The Third Affiliated Hospital, Sun Yat-Sen University, Guangzhou, China.