Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Children's Health

Font Size
A
A
A

Low Vitamin D More Common in Overweight Kids

By Rita Rubin
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

overweight boy with serious expression

Dec. 24, 2012 -- Overweight and obese children and teens are more likely to have low vitamin D levels than kids with healthy weights, a new study suggests.

The study is published in Pediatrics.

Vitamin D is essential for bone health. Bone growth is high during childhood and adolescence. So it may be especially important to identify and treat vitamin D deficiency during that time, the researchers write.

Vitamin D deficiency is also linked to a variety of chronic conditions, such as:

  • High blood pressure
  • Type 1 diabetes
  • Multiple sclerosis

 Previous research suggests that obesity may put you at risk for vitamin D deficiency.

Overweight Kids and Vitamin D

Researchers in the study analyzed data from more than 12,000 U.S. children and teens aged 6 to 18. The children were enrolled in the 2003-2006 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

About 21% of the healthy-weight youngsters were deficient in vitamin D. That was also true for 29% of those who were overweight, 34% of those who were obese, and 49% of those who were severely obese.

Even after accounting for such factors as vitamin D supplementation and intake of milk, which is typically fortified with vitamin D, the rates of vitamin D deficiency were higher in Latinos and African-Americans. Among the severely obese youngsters, 27% of whites, 52% of Latinos, and 87% of African-Americans were deficient in vitamin D.

"The particularly high prevalence in severely obese and minority children suggests that targeted screening and treatment guidance is needed," the researchers conclude.

Researcher Christy Turer, MD, a pediatrician at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and Children's Medical Center in Dallas, says she and her colleagues already were routinely checking vitamin D levels in children at specialty clinics, such as weight management clinics. Those found to be deficient are prescribed high-dose vitamin D supplements, a pill taken weekly. After eight weeks of treatment, their levels are rechecked, and if they're near normal, she'll cut them back to monthly doses of vitamin D supplements.

Turer also recommends that vitamin-D-deficient patients drink low-fat milk. If they don't like to drink plain milk, she says they can add artificially sweetened flavors that add only 15 calories a serving.

"The reason that milk is important is it has not just vitamin D, but it has calcium," she says. Unsweetened soy milk and almond milk are also good sources of vitamin D and calcium, Turer says.

Today on WebMD

preschool age girl sitting at desk
Article
look at my hand
Slideshow
 
woman with cleaning products
Slideshow
young boy with fever
Article
 

worried kid
fitArticle
boy on father's shoulder
Article
 
Child with red rash on cheeks
Slideshow
girl thinking
Article
 

babyapp
New
Child with adhd
Slideshow
 
rl with friends
fitSlideshow
Syringes and graph illustration
Tool
 
6-Week Challenges
Want to know more?
Build a Fitter Family Challenge – Get your crew motivated to move.
Feed Your Family Better Challenge - Tips and tricks to healthy up your diet.
Sleep Better Challenge - Snooze clues for the whole family.
I have read and agreed to WebMD's Privacy Policy.
Enter cell phone number
- -
Entering your cell phone number and pressing submit indicates you agree to receive text messages from WebMD related to this challenge. WebMD is utilizing a 3rd party vendor, CellTrust, to provide the messages. You can opt out at any time.
Standard text rates apply

WebMD Special Sections