Lack of Vitamin D causes obesity, stunts growth

December 11th, 2008 - 5:45 pm ICT by IANS  

Toronto, Dec 11 (IANS) Insufficient vitamin D can stunt growth and foster obesity during puberty, according to a new study.Even in sun-drenched California, scientists from McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) and University of Southern California found that vitamin D deficiency caused higher body mass and shorter stature in girls at the peak of their growing spurt.

While lack of vitamin D is common in adults and has been linked to osteoporosis, cancer and obesity, until this study, little was known about the consequences of insufficient vitamin D in young people.

The research team measured vitamin D in girls aged 16 to 22 using a simple blood test (25-hydroxy vitamin D). They also assessed body fat and height to determine how vitamin D deficiency could affect young women’s health.

“The high prevalence of vitamin D insufficiency in young people living in a sun-rich area was surprising,” said study co-author, Richard Kremer, co-director of the Musculoskeletal Axis of the MUHC.

“We found young women with vitamin D insufficiency were significantly heavier, with a higher body mass index and increased abdominal fat, than young women with normal levels.”

Researchers examined 90 Caucasian and Hispanic girls and discovered that young women with normal vitamin D levels were on average taller than peers deficient in vitamin D.

However, their investigation found no association between lack of vitamin D and bone strength, according to a MUHC release.

“Although vitamin D is now frequently measured in older adults, due to a higher level of awareness in this population, it is rarely measured in young people - especially healthy adolescents,” said Kremer.

These findings were published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.

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