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Low vitamin D in obese adolescents linked to metabolic risks

Posted on: May 7, 2013   by  Vitamin D Council


Vitamin D deficiency is significantly associated with metabolic risk factors in morbidly obese adolescents, according to research reported at the Pediatric Endocrine Society annual meeting. Metabolic risk factors can increase ones risk for stroke, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.

Marisa Censani, MD, of Columbia University Medical Center in New York and colleagues report that vitamin D deficiency was linked to high fasting insulin and blood sugar levels. Additionally, the homeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance (HOMA-IR) – which is an independent predictor of heart disease and diabetes – correlated with vitamin D deficiency.

“The finding that vitamin D status and HbA1c [measures blood sugar] concentrations were inversely correlated in the setting of insulin resistance suggested that deficiency may be associated with poorer glycemic control,” Dr Censani explained.

Previous research in both adults and young children reported that low vitamin D levels are correlated with high blood pressure, insulin resistance, and risk of diabetes. This link hadn’t previously been studied in adolescents.

The researchers performed a cross-sectional study of data on 236 teenagers being evaluated prior to bariatric surgery. Mean vitamin D status was 20.8 ng/ml, with 53% deficient (<20 ng/ml) and 8% severely deficient (<10 ng/ml).

In addition to the associations listed above, the researchers report that vitamin D deficiency was correlated with waist circumference and HDL cholesterol. Factors that weren’t associated with vitamin D deficiency include systolic blood pressure, C-reactive protein (marker of inflammation), and total cholesterol.

“Whether repleting vitamin D deficiency leads to improvements in insulin resistance in this morbidly obese adolescent patient population has yet to be determined. Further research is needed to determine the short- and long-term risks in adolescents with vitamin D deficiency for dyslipidemia, bone disease, and diabetes,” Dr Censani concludes.


Walsh N. Low vitamin D in obese linked to risks. Medpage Today. May 6, 2013.

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