Recent research published in the journal Pediatrics reports vitamin D deficiency is extremely prevalent in overweight and obese children.
Researchers led by Christy Turner, MD, MHS, and colleagues at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, analyzed data from over 12,000 US children and teens aged 6 to 18 years in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.
Height, body weight, and vitamin D levels of the children were measured. Participants were classified as healthy weight, overweight, obese, or severely obese. After adjusting for confounding factors, the researchers examined associations between BMI and vitamin D deficiency. They found that 21% of healthy-weight youngsters are vitamin D deficient, 29% of overweight children, 34% obese, and 49% severely obese children were vitamin D deficient.
After accounting for vitamin D supplementation and intake of fortified milk, vitamin D deficiency was most prevalent among severely obese Latinos (53%) and African Americans (87%), compared with 27% Caucasian children.
Lead author Christy Turer, MD, MHS, stated that she and her colleagues routinely check vitamin D levels in children at weight management clinics. Deficient children are prescribed high-dose vitamin D supplements taken weekly. After 8 weeks the levels are rechecked, and if normal, the children are put on a lower monthly maintenance dose. The dosages were not specified.
The authors conclude,
“Further studies are needed to determine the clinical relevance of low vitamin D levels among overweight/obese children, including whether there is a causal relationship between vitamin D deficiency and obesity-associated cardio metabolic conditions, as well as skeletal conditions… The particularly high prevalence in severely obese and minority children suggests that targeted screening and treatment guidance is needed.”