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BACKGROUND: Antioxidants, such as ascorbic acid, play a role in scavenging free radicals to protect against oxidative endothelial damage. Excess fat may promote fatty acid oxidation and increase free radical concentrations, which could result in increased antioxidant use. Whether plasma ascorbic acid concentrations are associated with fat distribution remains unclear. OBJECTIVE: Our aim was to examine the association between abdominal obesity, as measured by the waist-to-hip ratio, and plasma ascorbic acid concentrations in the general population. DESIGN: We examined the cross-sectional relation between anthropometric measurements of fat distribution and plasma ascorbic acid concentrations in 19 068 men and women aged 45-79 y without known chronic illness. Dietary ascorbic acid intake was estimated for a subgroup of 8178 men and women who kept 7-d food diaries coded for nutrient intake. RESULTS: The waist-to-hip ratio was inversely related to plasma ascorbic acid concentrations in both men and women. This association was independent of body mass index, age, vitamin supplement use, cigarette smoking, and socioeconomic group. Waist and hip circumferences showed separate and opposite associations with plasma ascorbic acid concentrations, independent of body mass index and other covariates. Dietary ascorbic acid intake only partly explained the observed associations. CONCLUSIONS: Plasma ascorbic acid was associated with fat distribution independent of body mass index. Differences in dietary intake and lifestyle habits, underlying systemic oxidative stress, or both may explain the inverse relation between fat distribution and plasma ascorbic acid concentrations. Additional studies are needed to determine the underlying explanation of these observations.

Original publication




Journal article


Am J Clin Nutr

Publication Date





1203 - 1209


Abdominal Fat, Adipose Tissue, Aged, Antioxidants, Ascorbic Acid, Body Composition, Body Fat Distribution, Body Mass Index, Cohort Studies, Cross-Sectional Studies, Diet Records, Female, Humans, Life Style, Male, Middle Aged, Obesity, Oxidative Stress, Prospective Studies, Waist-Hip Ratio