Obesity new factors, science research findings

  • March 21, 2013
  • Sophie Langley

Australian researchers at the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute (MCRI) have found that children who are obese are more likely to have a Vitamin D deficiency.

Dr Matt Sabin, one of the researchers and a consultant at the Royal Children’s Hospital, told Australian Food News today that researchers were not sure if the low Vitamin D levels were caused by the children’s excess weight, or vice versa.

Vitamin D is stored in the body’s fatty tissue, and an increase level of fat could mean that Vitamin D was being trapped there, said Dr Sabin.

Preliminary figures from the research, which is yet to be published, found that 44 per cent of clinically obese children had a mild to moderate Vitamin D deficiency, and 1.5 per cent of the children had a severe Vitamin D deficiency. Children with high blood pressure were also more likely to have lower Vitamin D levels.

The study examined data 203 patients, 100 of whom were male, aged 3 to 18 years. 3-18 years. All the patients were clinically obese. When published, the data will include results from a further 100 patients at a clinic at Melbourne’s Monash University.

In Australia 1 in 4 children is overweight or obese. Of those, 40 to 50 per cent have high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels, 10 per cent have pre-diabetes, and about 1 per cent have type 2 diabetes. The study was undertaken to work out if Vitamin D levels could be used to predict whether overweight or obese children are likely to develop the health complications often associated with excess weight.

Dr Sabin said he hopes to expand the research to confirm the conclusion of the findings. Lack of Vitamin D has been associated with a range of health problems from multiple sclerosis to an increased risk of developing food allergies. Vitamin D can come from sun exposure, but it is also found in dairy foods, broccoli and salmon.


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