According to a study by the UCL Institute of Child Health, obesity can lead to Vitamin D deficiency. The lead investigator of the study, Dr. Elina Hypponen, believes that efforts that help to tackle the obesity epidemic would also help reduce the number of individuals suffering from Vitamin D deficiency in the world.  The study was published in the ICH-led paper in the journal PLOS Medicine. The study worked on establishing a connection between Vitamin D deficiencies and weight gain or obesity.

About the Study

The study used different genetic markers that were derived by analyzing 21 various adult cohort groups with 42,000 participants. The study’s researchers explored the link between the genes associated with the metabolism of Vitamin D and body mass index (BMI). Associations between the two later confirmed the connection with further data obtained from a genetic consortium of over 123,000 patients. Researchers of this study found that there was a 10% rise in BMI linked to a 4% drop of vitamin D concentration in the body.

Ultimately, the study’s finding suggests that a patient with a higher BMI will have lower levels of vitamin D in their body. However, the lack of vitamin D appeared to be small. The study’s researchers found that the same association was similar between the genders, regardless of their age.

Vitamin D is essential to have healthy bones and is mostly obtained through diet and supplements. The association of obesity and Vitamin D was unclear until this study. While Vitamin D deficiency is a growing health issue, there is some evidence that Vitamin D metabolism and storage both influence or are influenced by body fat.

Experiments using rats suggest that high doses of Vitamin D2 can help boost the amount of energy that they burn. These trial tests suggest that obesity could result from a decline in Vitamin D and low exposure to sunlight. This may be why so many put on weight during cold weather months. The study’s researchers also found that vitamin D that was stored in fatty tissue lead to lower vitamin D concentrations, more then so in average weight individuals.

Ultimately, the results from this ICH study suggest that while increases in the amount of Vitamin D in the body may not help regulate weight, they may be able to change health effects associated with excess weight.

According to Hypponen, vitamin D is a major health concern globally. While many studies focus on lack of sun exposure, she believes we shouldn’t forget that vitamin deficiencies also could be caused by obesity. This makes fighting the obesity epidemic that much more important.

This study highlights how important it is to both monitor and treat vitamin D deficiency in overweight or obese individuals. The health effects they receive from this deficiency may contribute to their inactivity or poor diet. Anything that can be done to help these individuals get to optimal health (or as optimal as possible) can help motivate them to change their lifestyle or prepare for weight loss surgery.