A new study published in the European Journal of Nutrition reports that vitamin D deficiency may increase your chances of becoming obese years later.
The study looked at 1,226 people enrolled into the Pizarra study, a cohort established in 1996. The participants were then followed over the next 12 years, with three evaluations spanning across the 12 years. Initial evaluations took place between 1996-98, second evaluations took place between 2002-04, and final evaluations took place in 2005-07.
What the researchers found is that those who had low vitamin D levels in the second evaluation were much more likely to become obese on the final evaluation compared to those with higher vitamin D levels. Specially, those with levels lower than 17 ng/ml had a 2.35 times higher risk of becoming obese than those with levels over 17 ng/ml.
Obesity is a known risk factor for vitamin D deficiency because the more you weigh the more vitamin D you need. This makes understanding the exact relationship between obesity and vitamin D difficult to study and understand. Researchers are trying to find out if vitamin D makes you more susceptible to becoming obese, or if obesity just makes you deficient or a combination of both.
The advantage of this present study is that the researchers had the benefit to see vitamin D levels at a baseline evaluation, and then assess whether people with various vitamin D levels gained weight, lost weight or stayed the same. They were able to hone in on the question, does vitamin D make you more susceptible to becoming obese?
The researchers concluded, “The results of the present study suggest that lower 25(OH)D values in obese subjects may not have been secondary to obesity, but may in fact precede obesity.”
Molero IG et al. Hypovitaminosis D and incidence of obesity; a prospective study. Eur J of Clin Nutr, 2013