Vitamin D, which is primarily provided to the body by the sun, has been a hot topic in the U.S. lately. The federal standards for vitamin D intake have come under fire by public health professionals as being much too low, and disagreement continues over the proper amount of vitamin D necessary for optimal health.
Accumulation of abdominal fat, or central fat, may lead to a so-called apple body shape, which is commonly linked to increased risks of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and other chronic conditions later in life, says epidemiologist Eduardo Villamor, associate professor at the U-M School of Public Health and senior author of the study.
Villamor worked with colleagues at the National University of Colombia and began the research while at Harvard. The investigators recruited a group of 479 school children ages 5-12 from Bogota, Colombia, in 2006 and followed them for about 30 months. They measured vitamin D in blood taken at the beginning of the study, and then examined the link between vitamin D levels and changes in three indicators of body fat over time: body mass index, waist circumference and subscapular-to-triceps skin fold ratio.
"We found that the kids with the lowest vitamin D levels at the beginning tended to gain weight faster than the kids with higher levels," said Villamor, who added that children with the lowest vitamin D levels had more drastic increases in central body fat measures.
Vitamin D deficiency was also linked to slower growth in height among girls but not boys, he said.
"Our findings suggest that low vitamin D status may put children at risk of obesity," said Diane Gilbert-Diamond, Villamor's former Harvard student, now at Dartmouth Medical School and first author of the study. "This is significant because vitamin D insufficiency is highly prevalent across the globe and childhood obesity rates are dramatically increasing worldwide."
Though vitamin D intake could be related to early obesity, it's just part of a very complex picture, Villamor stressed.
Of all the children tested, 10 percent were vitamin D deficient, and another 46 percent of kids were insufficient, which meant they were at risk of becoming deficient.
"Interestingly, Bogota, Colombia, is in a subtropical zone where one may not expect to find a lot of vitamin D deficiency since the assumption is that sunlight is abundant there, but there could be many reasons people in subtropical climates may not get enough sun exposure," Villamor said.
Indeed, previous studies have shown that populations in other subtropical areas such as Sao Paulo, Brazil, and Costa Rica may also have vitamin D deficiency.
"These findings should motivate some discussion on ways to enhance vitamin D status of children there, although it will be necessary to confirm in intervention studies whether improvements in vitamin D status decrease the risk of childhood obesity and early development of chronic diseases," Villamor said.
In addition to sun exposure, other sources of vitamin D are fortified foods and supplements. Vitamin D supplementation has been shown to prevent some viral infections in school-age children, so there could be benefits on other outcomes as well, which need to be tested in future studies, Villamor pointed out.
The paper, "Vitamin D deficiency and anthropometric indicators of adiposity in school-age children: a prospective study," is available this month in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
The University of Michigan School of Public Health has been promoting health and preventing disease since 1941, and is ranked among the top public health schools in the nation. Whether making new discoveries in the lab or researching and educating in the field, SPH faculty, students and alumni are deployed around the globe to promote and protect our health. Visit: www.sph.umich.eduContact: Laura Bailey
Laura Bailey | EurekAlert!
Study suggests possible new target for treating and preventing Alzheimer's
02.12.2016 | Oregon Health & Science University
The first analysis of Ewing's sarcoma methyloma opens doors to new treatments
01.12.2016 | IDIBELL-Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water
In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...
The efficiency of power electronic systems is not solely dependent on electrical efficiency but also on weight, for example, in mobile systems. When the weight of relevant components and devices in airplanes, for instance, is reduced, fuel savings can be achieved and correspondingly greenhouse gas emissions decreased. New materials and components based on gallium nitride (GaN) can help to reduce weight and increase the efficiency. With these new materials, power electronic switches can be operated at higher switching frequency, resulting in higher power density and lower material costs.
Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE together with partners have investigated how these materials can be used to make power...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
02.12.2016 | Medical Engineering
02.12.2016 | Agricultural and Forestry Science
02.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy