Vitamin D supplements may promote weight loss and reduce risk factors for future heart and metabolic disease in obese and overweight children. The findings indicate that vitamin D is the simple supplementation may be part of an effective strategy to tackle childhood obesity and reduce the risk of serious health problems, such as heart disease, in adulthood.
Obesity in childhood and adolescence represents a major health problem worldwide, which leads to the development of expensive, debilitating and serious complications, including diabetes and heart disease, in later life. Vitamin D deficiency is stereotypically associated with impaired bone health, in recent years it has been increasingly linked with increased body fat accumulation and obesity, with the precise nature of this relationship currently under intense investigation by scientists. However, the effect of vitamin D supplementation on the health and weight of obese children and adolescents had not yet been investigated.
In this study, researchers assessed 232 obese children and adolescents over 1 year, with 117 randomly assigned to receive vitamin D supplementation, in accordance with the guidelines on treatment and prevention of deficiency. Levels of vitamin D, body fat, and blood markers of liver function and heart health were assessed at the start of the study and 12 months later. The study reported that children given vitamin D supplements had significantly lower BMI, body fat and improved cholesterol levels after a year of supplementation.
These findings suggest that simple vitamin D supplementation may reduce the risk of obese and overweight children developing serious heart and metabolic complications in later life.
The team now plan to investigate the effects of vitamin D supplementation on the health of obese children and adolescents that already have unhealthy conditions, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and high blood glucose all of which increase the risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes.
Although these initial findings indicate that vitamin D could be used in the treatment of obesity, there remains a lack of evidence on the safety and long-term effects of supplementation, particularly if there is no vitamin D deficiency. However, if your child is obese or overweight I recommend that you consult your primary care physician for advice, and consider having their vitamin D levels tested.