Could Lack Of Vitamin D Lead To Childhood Obesity?

Is it possible that a vitamin D deficiency is linked to obesity in children?

That’s the theory presented recently in study conducted at the University of Michigan and published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Vitamin D Deficiency Linked To Childhood Obesity

The study followed 497 school children in Bogota, Colombia, and here’s how Green Parenthood reports the findings:

The study mainly focussed on the accumulation of abdominal fat which is associated with several health hazards including diabetes and cardio vascular diseases…

The children with the lowest vitamin D levels gained weight faster than the children with higher levels of vitamin D. The central body fat increased significantly in children with lowest vitamin D levels. Lack of vitamin D also correlated with slower growth of height among girls, however, the same was not true in the case of boys…

The results concluded that the high prevalence of vitamin D deficiency is significantly increasing the incidence of childhood obesity. Vitamin D can be obtained by fortified foods and supplements in addition to sufficient sun exposure. The studies also showed that vitamin D supplements also helped in preventing some viral infections in school children.

The premise is that when children spend more time indoors, their natural exposure to vitamin D from sunlight is reduced. You would think that children in a subtropical zone get plenty of sun exposure, so these findings are pretty unexpected.

The Importance Of Vitamin D And A Healthy Lifestyle

However, doesn’t that only point to the fact that there is no one explanation for children being overweight? After all, we’ve known about the importance of vitamin D for a long time, ever since it’s use in preventing rickets in the 1940s.

So lack of vitamin D alone does not explain the soaring rates of childhood obesity. Rather, we should examine the poor diet and sedentary lifestyle of many of our children. And then get them outside and moving around!

What’s still true is that medical experts worldwide agree both that vitamin D is important to healthy growth, and that it is deficient in some children.

Surprising Report: There Is No Lack Of Vitamin D?

It is therefore surprising to read a recent report from the Institute of Medicine (IOM) stating that few people are vitamin D deficient. This is in spite of an abundance of scientific research that indicates otherwise.

Indeed, a number of prominent doctors have advised vitamin D supplements for a wide variety of illnesses. And now we have research from the University of Michigan to add to medical authorities highlighting a lack of vitamin D, and its importance for our well-being.

Take Action Now!

Click here to sign our petition urging Congress to appoint a new panel to review vitamin D, and to call for an investigation into the IOM’s report.

Photo credit: iStock

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Joan O.
Joan O.4 years ago

This needs some immediate type action as a lot of children seem to spend more time indoors than being outside in the fresh air getting the necessary natural vitamin D from the sun.

Aoife L.
Aoife L.4 years ago

Vitamin D is extremely important for everyone for bones & teeth!

Barbara Erdman
Barbara Erdman4 years ago

Interesting, thanx

Robert O.
Robert O.4 years ago

Lack of vitamin D has been linked to many diseases and disorders, but I doubt it could be linked to childhood obesity. Depending on physiological factors it could be a contributor, but I don't think it would be the primary culprit.

Sue M.
Sue Matheson4 years ago

Vitamin D is important for children but I'd have to see a whole lot more research before I was convinced that a lack of it in childhood leads to obesity. Lifestyle, I think, is indicated here by the study. People who keep their kids indoors train them to stay indoors.

Stephen Amsel
Past Member 4 years ago

I suspect the IOM's report had a different definition of "deficient". Rickets is indeed relatively rare these days, though different levels of Vitamin D may all fall into the "normal range" (however a given study defines it).

Also, it really does look like a non-causative correlation, though perhaps Vitamin D could be used as a good overall indicator. Exposure to sunlight implies physical activity and last I checked the only significant Vitamin D-addition to food was in milk. A good diet and physical activity will definitely reduce the likelihood of obesity.

Nancy S.
Nancy S.4 years ago


Amy Piedad
Amy Piedad4 years ago

Indeed, kids exposure to sun in the morning is good. Playing outside rather than staying inside playing video game is much better. I guess most parents are aware of this.

Antony T.
Antony T.4 years ago

Catherine O'Neill,

Losing weight by exercise, has long been known to be the most inneficient way, the level of caloric usage is barely enough in a year of walking vigourously to account for one beefburger,

Humans are the most calory efficient machines in your universe, using less energy to create work, than almost every other machine, even a marathon a day, barely touches human obesity.

It is certainly not a solution to obesity, although it may help blood pressure and heart troubles, and indications are, it aids those who are depressed, and some irritable bowel sufferers.

But weight loss ? that's just a thin person's bigotry, ignorance, stupidity, cruelty, and thoughtlessness.....coming into play. that's all....


Catherine O Neill

Inactivity leads to obesity.What happened to playing sports & going for a walk?? Mom of 4 adult kids & 5 grandkids & none are overweight b/c they move their bodies