Obese Kids Need Vitamin D

Vitamin D deficiency in obese children may play a part in development of type 2 diabetes

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) For adults, low levels of vitamin D can lead to all sorts of heart problems, as well as diabetes. Now, it seems that children may face the same risk, especially if they are obese.

Obese children are more likely than non-obese children to have low levels of vitamin D. These low vitamin D levels may be linked to risk factors for type 2 diabetes.

"Eat a healthy diet with foods high in vitamin D."

For a recent study, Micah Olson, M.D., of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, and colleagues looked at the relationship between vitamin D levels and dietary habits in obese children. They wanted to see if vitamin D levels had any effect on glucose metabolism (how the body burns sugar as fuel) and blood pressure - two risk factors for type 2 diabetes.

Vitamin D deficiency is common among obese adults, and past research has found that low vitamin D is associated with heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

From their research, Dr. Olson and colleagues found that low vitamin D levels may also be common among obese children. Furthermore, obese children with lower levels of vitamin D may be more resistant to insulin, a hormone that controls blood sugar levels.

Dr. Olson notes that his team's study does not prove that vitamin D deficiency directly causes diabetes. Nonetheless, he says that the study "does suggest that low vitamin D levels may play a role in the development of type 2 diabetes."

For their study, the researchers evaluated the dietary habits of 411 obese children and 87 non-overweight children between six and sixteen years of age. They asked the children how much soda, juice, milk, fruits, and vegetables they consumed on a daily basis.

The children were also asked if they regularly skipped breakfast. The researchers measured the children's vitamin D levels, blood sugar levels, insulin levels, blood pressure, and body mass index (BMI).

According to Dr. Olson, poor dietary habits were associated with the lower levels of vitamin D found in obese children. Drinking too much juice and soda, or skipping breakfast, could be contributing to vitamin D deficiency.

Dr. Olson concludes that more research is needed to understand the impact of lower vitamin D levels in obese children. He says that future studies should look at how much treatment is required to bring vitamin D levels back to normal in these children, and if treatment with vitamin D can improve outcomes for patients.

The study by Dr. Olson and colleagues appears in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
December 6, 2011
Last Updated:
December 11, 2011